Ritual Or Relationship?
In Jeremiah 2:6, the people “stopped asking: Where is the Lord who brought us from the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness.” At the beginning of God’s covenant relationship, the Jews were devoted to the Lord and loved Him, but once they conquered the Promised Land, their hearts lusted after the gods of the nations around them and they sank into idolatry (Judges 1-3). They disobeyed God’s commandments. God instituted His commandments as a protection for those He loves, but the commandments can become a pathway to legalism rather than an avenue for a relationship with our Father in which He protects us from harm.
Christianity is an intimate, growing relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not a set of doctrines to believe, habits to practice, or sins to avoid. Every activity God commands is intended to enhance His love relationship with His people. Unfortunately, Israel stopped worshiping God.
God designed worship for us to se Him in His glory and to respond appropriately; for many it has degenerated into “religion,” one more meeting to attend out of habit.
Religious activity apart from fellowship with God is empty ritual. The people of Jeremiah’s day were satisfied to have the ritual without the manifest presence of God. They became so comfortable with their “religion” that they didn’t even notice God’s absence. Is it possible to pray, to attend a worship service, or to give an offering yet not to experience the presence of God? It certainly is possible! And that has been the sad commentary on many a Christian experience. Don’t settle for a religious life that lacks a vital relationship to Jesus Christ.