Abandoning Ritual for Relationship
For quite some time I refused to attend church. I did not renounce God, nor did I stop serving Him, I just didn’t go to church. I had a lengthy list of reasons, which I needed to defend against the lengthy list of saints who feared for my immortal soul. Every Sunday and the occasional Wednesday my friends would gently suggest that I accompany them to their various places of worship. Initially I relented, and sat through a variety of services that ranged from the frightening to the enlightening, with frequent stops at the entertaining. In the majority of these services I did not see or hear what I truly sought, which hardened my resolve to not waste any more time in church. But there was a problem. All my life I had been taught that you go to church to hear from God. So even if I claimed to love God and serve God, how could I hear from Him if I didn’t go to church?
My friends hammered this point home relentlessly, to the point that I refused to engage in the discussion. If they branded me a heathen, then so be it. But I was certain that God didn’t want me to just sit there for 2-3 hours (sometimes more), just to prove my devotion to Him.
In the midst of this I turned to my Bible. That was God’s word, so I could at least read what He had said again. As I read, a question that had been a gentle whisper, began to grow in my mind. What church did Abraham attend? Moses? When David was in the wilderness, what temple did he seek? But yet these people and others had a more intimate relationship with God than many avid churchgoers I know.
Then I realized that what God was seeking from me, and from all of us is a relationship. The people I listed above had a true friendship with Him, they spoke to Him and he answered. I read where Abraham was a friend of God, where Adam communed with God in the cool of the evening, and I saw that it wasn’t about following a ritual pattern of service, but about spending time with the God that made me, and loves me.
So I began to do that, to listen for His voice, and the funny thing is, I heard it. It wasn’t a booming thunderous, Old King James voice, but a calming, gentle voice. I knew it was Him. We spoke and we fellowshipped and He showed me things I needed to know. Then He showed me my next step.
I saw that the early Church was a different entity from most modern churches. The people of God gathered to share what they knew of Him, to celebrate Him and to learn what He said. They attended out of an eagerness to learn more as well as a desire to share what they had learned while spending time with Him. Their gatherings were not to guarantee entrance to Heaven, but to celebrate their relationship with Him. Their meetings served to confirm what they had already been told, to encourage the struggling and to celebrate their victories.
B & F Ministry
5/28/2022 07:23:52 pm
I enjoyed this post thanks for sharing
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Just a little birdy and fish about the Father's business. Helping to better the world one blog at a time.