Religion was created by man in an attempt to reach God. In religious organizations such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Judaism* and sometimes even Christianity, rituals are performed in an effort to please God. The very first act of religion recorded in Scripture lies in Genesis 3:7 when Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to cover themselves and hide from God.
Performing rituals in any religion is altogether separate from enjoying a personal relationship with God. In fact, man doesn’t have to initiate anything with God because a relationship with mankind God initiated Himself when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay with innocent blood our sin penalty and offer us eternal life in Himself. God says it is not reaching up, but receiving wholeheartedly with thanksgiving and having solid faith in what He has done for us through Christ that pleases Him very much.
Rituals are worthless because they do not please God (John 6:29; Gal. 3:7; Heb. 10:8, 11, 11:6). The problem is that God has no interest in our coverings or performance. He wants only our hearts. Once He has been offered the treasure of a precious heart, His blood begins to course throughout it as the Holy Spirit takes residence and everything else flows in to place naturally.
Do you have a personal relationship with God?
Or are you performing rituals thinking that pleases Him?
Maybe you have a combination of both.
We can evaluate our relationship with God in consideration of the following facts:
1) rituals are dead, finite and cannot save
2) Christ is alive, infinite and the only Savior
Although we are creatures of habit and may prefer spiritual routines to feel spiritually stable, God does not need them in His relationship with us. And sometimes when we automatically hold to the same routines we can limit ourselves in growing to know God in new ways. Once we have internalized His Word, His ways and the truth that He lives inside of us, we can consider asking Him to grow us to know Him intimately by His Spirit at all times without necessarily having to rely on routines.
Once we believe we are rooted and grounded in our faith we can test the genuineness of our relationship with God by eliminating rituals. After they are eliminated, if we know we still have a relationship with God then we know that our relationship with Him is real. Otherwise, if we experience instability after removal of rituals we know that we have been performing and relying on something other than God. Another name for rituals is idols.
For example, reading the inerrant (original texts), immutable Holy Bible is a wonderful habit when we read the words in context of the whole counsel of God and receive them as God’s gift to us as an avenue to know Him. On the other hand, the Bible becomes an idol when used as a religious status symbol or as a book of rules by which to judge others or as a magical book which gives eternal life.
For knowing about God and knowing God are two totally different things. To the Pharisees Christ gave a serious warning about use of the Scriptures, “You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me!” (John 5:39, Heb. 10:7, Ps 40:7)
Just as we can’t expect to find life in rituals, let’s not expect to obtain eternal life through the Bible, for as Christ says in John 5:39, it is not found in the mere pages. Instead, let’s allow every verse to lead us directly and exclusively to Him.
Regardless of what religion may teach, eternal life is found only in the Risen Christ. He is the Living Word of God.
(*Judaism, an exception, was instituted by God as the root of Christianity. The rituals in Judaism serve to reveal man’s inability to live up to God’s standards and thus point to the cross. See Romans, Galatians, Hebrews.)
IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.
He is dressed in a robe dyed by dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God.
Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by faith who are [the true] sons of Abraham.
“You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me!”
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’”
Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].
So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect].
When He said just before, You have neither desired, nor have You taken delight in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings–all of which are offered according to the Law–
Furthermore, every [human] priest stands [at his altar of service] ministering daily, offering the same sacrifices over and over again, which never are able to strip [from every side of us] the sins [that envelop us] and take them away–
But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him.
Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down ( relax My hold on you)! [ Assuredly not!]