Monday, February 9, 2009

Ritual - the least imporant part

I am doing some preparation for my religion class and was reading an article by a Hindu (P. Ravi Sarma, M.D.) describing his religion. He said something that really struck me.
"Therefore, most Hindus, like people of any religion, live their lives like any body else, and go through the ritual of the religion (which is the least important part of its observance.)"
A fascinating quote and very reminiscent of Israel. You might recall how God responded to Israel's persistence in the ritual of religion found in Isaiah 1:10 - 15.

10 Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

11 "The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?" says the LORD.
"I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?

13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;

It's surprising to find that every religion suffers from the same thing: people who believe the ritual is the most important part. For most religions this is probably the most important part for it is my conviction that they don't have the truth and that there is nothing but ritual that binds them to the supernatural. For the Christian though, the ritual should be the least important part.

We have to be careful that we don't get relationship mixed up with religion. It is easy to merely go through the rituals, but true Christianity is not comprised of rituals. At the heart of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. Israel missed this. God had offered them a relationship. They opted for religion. Let us not make the same mistake. Religion is a false sense of security without the relationship.

When the rest of the world looks at us we need to show them that the ritual is not the most important part. The world sees this in every other religion, but it is up to us to show them the truth. The truth is seen through our relationship.

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