Ritual or Remembrance
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”
Luke 22:19 NLT
There are things that we do as Christians to remember the Lord, to learn more about Him, to grow and sharpen and equipment ourselves for His service.
For example, most Christians participate in the Lord’s supper, where we break bread and drink to remind us of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins. And the point is to remember and to share a time together where we remind each other what the Lord has done for us so that we can collectively as a unified body of believers worship the Lord and give thanks.
However, there is a danger that comes in group participation if there is not a genuine belief and a focus on drawing near to the Lord. There is a danger that it becomes an empty ritual. There is a danger that it becomes dead religious practice instead of a living relationship with the Lord.
And this can be true of many things that we do when it comes to our luff in Christ. If we are attending a fellowship with each other on Sundays out of obligation, or to appear to others in the community as a person with honor and integrity, or because we know that our children need to learn the lessons to keep themselves or of trouble – then can we say that we are participating in a relationship with a God who lives in us, or can we only lay claim to dead religious practice?
If we are doing a daily devotional out of habit and practice, and enjoying the knowledge and wisdom in the advice, but it is not bringing us closer to the Lord, nor is it impacting our daily lives to share the Love of Christ with others – are, we settling for the false substitute of dead religious practice instead of fanning the flames of the fire inside us that is Christ who lives in us and through us?
It is a fine line between religious practice and remembrance. Maybe that’s why Christ said that it is a narrow path and that few would find it. Because we have to ask ourselves whether we are actually seeking Him, or if we are just seeking something for ourselves?
Are we seeking God in hopes that He will bless us because of our faithful sacrifices? Are we looking to trade our faithful ten percent for a guaranteed return of prosperity – treating God like our banker or our stock broker and asking Him for our inheritance paid out now upon this earth, or are we seeking Him as our inheritance and our portion? This is the difference between a false gospel of prosperity and worshipping mammon as opposed to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are trying to use God for our own purposes, or if we are trying to earn our way to heaven through ritual, we may have missed the very belief and relationship that is required.
If I’m praying at set times out of habit and practice, but I’m not truly talking to God, and asking Him for help, and seeking His answers, and listening – but I’m just checking it of of the list of things to do, aren’t I missing out on the very communion with God that we say we look forward to having one day in heaven, but proving that we don’t want it because we refuse to participate even today when we have the opportunity.
You see, we have a choice of what we want. And many will choose no religion at all, because they don’t want Good, nor do they want to associate with those hypocrites that practice religion but clearly hate one another by the evidence of their actions. And many will choose religion that is empty of any real connection or relationship with God, because they want to associate themselves with the hypocrites, but they don’t truly want to associate themselves with God. But there are also the few who are not interested in empty ritual or religious practice, but they, are eager to participate in anything that brings glory and honor and remembrance to their Lord and Savior.
It is easy to see the visible difference between the one who sits ritually in religious practice and one who does not. But who can know the hearts of men and tell the difference between one simply practicing ritual and one truly in fellowship with the Lord? I can’t know for you, my friend. But I can examine myself and answer that question truthfully and humbly before the Lord – just as we each should regularly. Not regularly so that we fall into practice, but regularly so that we remain deeply in love – with our Lord and Savior who is the only portion worth having. Let them have this world, give us our relationship with God, let us be reconciled to His grace and glory, let us be lifted up from this temporary dwelling place as we travel as foreigners awaiting our return to our home eternal in His presence.
Don’t just practice ritual and religion, friends. Celebrate remembering the relationship that you now have with Christ who lives in you. Fan the flame.