Catacomb Resident Blog

The Necessity of Ritual

25 October 2021

God does not need rituals; we do.

We do not ape the ritual law of the Old Testament because we are not under the Covenant of Moses. But we do learn from that covenant and its rituals. On the one hand, we must absorb the cultural imagery in order to understand our Father's revelation. It's how He portrayed Himself, and you can't simply abandon the whole thing as irrelevant. However, you are obliged, as Paul writes, to dig into the text for the same reason Israel was required to know the law code: It's a clear manifestation of God's ways.

Once you understand the ineffable truth behind that external cover, you are in a position to extract for yourself the rituals that speak the same truth to your own soul. You'll notice that God demanded Israel take the rituals seriously. Jesus said pretty much the same thing about the far less complicated rituals He taught His disciples in preparation for the New Covenant. Notice how Jesus modified the Seder ritual to become the Lord's Supper. That's an example of how we do it.

But the reason God laid down rituals in the first place was because of fallen human nature. Sure, it's easy to fall into empty ritual, but you cannot get close to God without rituals that hold some true meaning for you. The rituals represent taking seriously the necessity of fleshly obedience. There remains a ritual purity necessary to approach the Father, particularly in worshiping alongside others.

You bow your head and close your eyes to pray. It's not a rule; it's simply human psychology. You can talk to God aloud walking alone anywhere with your eyes open. But at some point in your devotional life, there's a need to bow your head and close your eyes because of what that communicates to your fallen fleshly mind through the wiring of your body. It speaks volumes, and your body knows that language.

The same goes with kneeling, holding out your hands palms up, and several other small ritual items we commonly use. It's not a question of rules; it's a question of silencing the flesh enough to hear from God.

Feel free to create your own rituals. Pray and contemplate what has meaning to your fleshly being in your own cultural background. Your convictions will tell you what is best for you. But don't take the attitude that rituals have no purpose; even in the flesh we know better than that. Do a little research in psychology; you'll see. But more important is that you test those rituals in worship for yourself.

You can perform rituals without taking God seriously, but you cannot take God seriously without some ritual.

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