Where my faith and creativity collide! A freedom freelancer, prayerful painter and clarion for Christ.

Lent Day 5: Ritual Religion vs. Right Relationship

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Several years ago I signed up to take Karate. I wanted to learn how to defend myself against enemies and exercise, in an effort to keep this “temple of the Holy Spirit” healthy and whole.

What started out with good intentions, quickly turned into a system of rules that riddled me with fear of failure and mental bondage that made me want to quit.  I no longer thought about defending myself from an enemy, because I was too bound up trying to follow all the rules. I no longer thought about exercising for health, because I was either not showing up or showing up just to go through the motions expected of me.

My karate class had become ritual religion, leaving me defenseless against the enemy, bound and fearful.  The yoke was most definitely not easy and the burden was a burial shroud.  I doubt that Karate was intended to make me feel this way, but it became that nonetheless. The Body of Christ, the Church, is meant to equip and empower us to fight the enemy and bring Heaven here, encourage us as we “freedom march” together and build up our faith, as perfect Love casts out fear. When the Church becomes ritual religion we start to see Old Testament temple model take over.  (*Take heart, Christ’s Church, His Body, His Bride, is still the hope of the world.  She radiantly shines when we see all those broken and beautiful parts surrendering to His design. )

Numbers is loaded with a laundry list of rules and regulations. As I read and reread all the specifics, I am reminded of the angst I felt walking into the dojang  (the formal gathering place for students of a martial art).  Shoes on, shoes off, don’t turn your back, walk in backwards, bow, don’t bow, shout “ya”, don’t shout “ya” etc… I was a nervous wreck.  Sadly, church environments can create the same angst when the rules start burying any remnant of relationship. As I read the ritual laws for the Nazarite,  I started sweating and holding onto my hair for dear life. (Check out Numbers 6 & 7) The hair on their heads was the symbol of their separation TO GOD; therefore, if they were defiled in any way, their hair was shaved, their symbol of being separated TO GOD was removed.  They were in a system of striving to stay seperated TO GOD.

I am always on a treasure hunt for Jesus in the Old Testament.  The first five books of the Bible, also known as the Jewish Torah, bombards us with laws and we cannot help but see the inability to keep them.  This impossible system of ritual religion shows us our need for a Savior.  Man, in his own efforts and on his very best day, could not follow all the rules, thus magnifying the need for One who could. As New Testament believers, the symbol of our separation TO GOD is THE CROSS.  The Cross cannot be taken from us; it is a covering that can’t be shaved off but remains like an eternal crown, marking us as royalty, sons and daughters, of the King of Kings.

The Cross that separated us TO GOD is the same Cross that bridged our separation  FROM GOD!

Christ replaced ritual religion with right relationship.

Jesus paid our redemption price in full. It was, is and will always be finished once and for all. One perfect, sinless God-Man freely gave Himself for a whole heap of hedonistic, helpless, hopeless, hurting, hurtful, hateful, hoarding, heinous humans.  (and that is just one letter in the alphabet of our  alliterated sin)

He took our sinful skin and gave us His righteousness robes.  He took humiliation and death and gave us honor and life. He took the fall of man and gave us right standing with the One and Only God, the Father.  He took our separation and separated us BACK TO GOD! There are not enough words in a thesaurus for “thank you ” that could touch the hem of my “GRACE GRATITUDE GARMENT.”

In light of that,

I want to live a life that shows my thankfulness in a million little ways.

How can I live a life with NO WASTED GRACE?

Waste (verb) : to use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose. 

(antonym) protect, 

Waste (verb) : become progressively weaker or more emaciated. 

(antonym) flourish, thrive

Waste (verb) : ruin or destroy

(antonym) build or create

To protect GRACE it must be given. Christ turned the Kingdom upside down. The purpose of Grace is to be poured out carefully (full of care and kindness), generously and continually.

Grace weakens and thins when it’s filtered by judgement.  Grace flourishes and thrives filtered by merciful eyes.  Grace is a gift, not a system, enabling us to thrive and flourish because we are seperated TO GOD by the Scarlett Thread of Christ, a bond that cannot be broken, taken or shaved off.

“…with a glance, God’s eyes examine every heart…” (see Psalm 11:4 The Passion Translation)

God, the only One fit to judge, chooses to filter our hearts through His mercy-seat.

Who are we to do anything less?

Grace is ruined when selectively and sparingly distributed by the religious. Grace was meant to drench, not drizzle, to wash, no withhold. Grace is what levels the playing field, preparing the ground to build and create the new.

“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste…” 1 Cor. 15:10 MSG

I’ve got GRACE, yes I do!

I’ve got GRACE; how ’bout you?

Now that is something to cheer about this Lent!

About Katie Wilson

Where my faith and creativity collide! A freedom freelancer, prayerful painter and clarion for Christ. #amwriting #Compel Forgiven and Free Living a life that says: COME AND SEE!

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