I just finished a book called, â€œThe Shack.â€ For the 3 of you out there who havenâ€™t gotten around to reading it, or just plain, donâ€™t readâ€”itâ€™s a book about encountering the God of the universe in a very real way at an old, beaten down shack.
Now, before some of you late night, armchair theologians start jumping down my throat because youâ€™ve heard from Mark Driscoll or someone else that the book is a theological wasteland (love ya, Mark, but lighten up, will ya?)â€”Iâ€™m not using it to develop sermons anymore than I use, â€œThe Hobbitâ€ to understand short people. But that doesnâ€™t mean that it isnâ€™t a good readâ€”it is. Anything that helps people understand that God wants a relationship rather than rituals and religion is worth at least a second glance.
Ok, sails deflated? Letâ€™s move on.
Actually, thereâ€™s a whole lot more to this book than what I wrote above, but this post isnâ€™t about a book review, itâ€™s about one of the many powerful things I learned in this intriguing read by author, William P. Young. This particular little something reminded me of just how important it is to clarify that none of the spiritual habits and rituals we go through on the spiritual journey as a Christ follower is intended to be a mere item on a checklist. For exampleâ€¦
Youâ€™ll often hear me at Southbrook Church or through the podcasts speak of the importance of daily time in the Bible with God. I also harp on the importance of talking to God throughout the dayâ€”everyday.
But not so you can check them off in your day runner each evening!
If these things are ever reduced to that than you are left with rituals rather than relationship and nothing could be worse or a greater waste of your life. No, when it comes to the spiritual habits, disciplines, routines, or whateverâ€”they are only as valuable as they are helpful at driving you ever closer to Christ. If they donâ€™t do this, dumpâ€™m.
That’s right, quit doing themâ€”at least for a season or until you can approach them with the right heart. Again, God isnâ€™t interested in rituals.
Hereâ€™s another one as an example.
Then stop doing it (Did I really just read a pastor saying, â€˜Stop tithing?!).
Yep. If you are just grudgingly going through the motions in order to sharpen up your spiritual resumeâ€”youâ€™re wasting your time. God doesnâ€™t need your money, he wants your heart and, if youâ€™re giving with a bad attitude, He obviously doesnâ€™t have it, so quit!
Nothingâ€™s a Ritual!
Maybe if I put it another wayâ€¦
What if I told my wife to meet me at 6:00 am every morning for 10 minutes of scheduled conversationâ€”first Iâ€™ll listen until my watch alarm goes off, and then she must spend the next 10 minutes listening to me until it goes off again. At the end of this time she sees me open up my day runner and check off, â€œtime spent with the wife.â€
What do you think her reaction to this type of â€˜relationshipâ€™ would be?
So why do we pull this junk with God?
Daily devotions is good. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasingâ€¦and many other things that are usually quite helpful for fostering and deepening relationship. BUT, the moment it drifts into no man’s land and starts going ritualistic on usâ€”stop, drop and roll.
Nothingâ€™s a Ritual.