I don’t feel that religion and ritual are helpful in this day and time. Am I wrong? From what I have experienced it causes mostly trouble. It is a way to control people; whether it is a congregation, your family, your spouse or whomever.
When I was following church doctrine to the letter I had unrealistic expectations from God and was extremely disappointed. I have since let go of religion. I have even let go of my own rituals of reading the Bible every day. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe it anymore. I do. However, I’m sure it is not supposed to be an instruction manual for life the way we have been taught. I still believe it was inspired. I also believe there are portions of the scripture which are indeed good for instruction and guidance in my life. But still, it is not an instruction manual to be followed to the letter.
I do believe it is a teaching tool, and with the Holy Spirit as the Teacher, it is a very important and large part of life. It is not the center of my belief. Jesus is. His Spirit is. My relationship with the Father through his Son is the center of my life. I believe in Them. And I am at the center of their lives together. So are you. We all are.
And as far as the bible being the word of God, I don’t believe that. However, the scriptures do point us to the Word of God, the one and only Son of God, Jesus. The Word, then, is at the center of my being. He is my life.
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him, not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it (John 1:1-5).
I have never been more comfortable in my life as I am now with God, the Lord, the Spirit, and the Father. I feel I have grown more in my spiritual life in the last several years than I have my whole life. And it was done without the rituals of religion. Any growth I had before was in spite of rituals.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m down on religion, but I guess I really am. But certainly, I am not down on the bible. But I am more interested in the one the Bible points us toward, not dead religious acts that have no power to change me from the inside out. The Word of God, however (Jesus), does have that power.
I don’t believe rituals are the key to real and permanent change in life. If it were, I would not have been so miserable for most of my “christian” life. Memorizing scripture didn’t work. Going to church every Sunday, Saturday or Wednesday did not work. Praying every day at the same time did not help. None of these rituals did. Nothing changed in my life until I realized that God loves me outside of all that.
Jesus was key to that realization. John says that Jesus is the only one who knows God and came to reveal Him to us. Jesus says, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” If I wanted to know what God was like and how he feels about me I needed to look to Jesus. It was Jesus who changed my mind about who God is through the Holy Spirit. It was realizing that God (all of them) accepted me the way I am in love that finally broke habits and strongholds that had held me in bondage most of my life. NOT RITUALS.
So NOT rituals. I still like going to church, but, it is not where I get my life. It is not what sustains me. It is not church or any of the associated rituals that make me a child of God. I am “in Christ”, and being there, born there, secure there, and sustained there makes me a child of God. And I can cry out with Jesus, “Abba Father.”