I can make a law out of anything. It’s so easy! And I’m prone to do so because I’m far more comfortable following God’s law than I am following God Himself. Up to this point, I’ve not directly connected this particular battle with my work to believe, but it’s closely related. It’s much harder to believe in God Himself than it is to believe in (trust in, rely on) the ritual or testimony that brought me face-to-face with Him.
Believe in God, Not the Law
When I say ritual, what I mean is the order of events. How was I saved? How was I healed? How was I disciplined? How was I comforted? I can make a law of the order of events that led me to God in any particular way. And rather than believe in God, the source of my salvation, healing, discipline, and comfort, I instead believe in the order of events, the ritual.
I once made a law of my own testimony. I looked at how God came for me and what He said to me and I elevated the intensely personal order of events over the Person who ordered them. In dealing with others, I assumed that what worked for me would work for them. I made a law of my own salvation testimony and elevated the ritual over the Creator. Surprise, surprise! My law-bound ritual bore only death. When I believe in the law, I shut myself off from the Source of all power and might. When I believe in God, He is free to move in and through me and anything is possible.
Believe in God, Not the Ritual
Maybe there is comfort in a ritual’s predictability because there’s an illusion of control. It’s not comfortable to be thrown off kilter by something new and unknown. I know that I am not alone in this discomfort; I’m pretty sure that all of humanity joins me in this. And Christendom in general reflects that. We say we believe in God, but it’s the ritual that we elevate.
It’s a rare thing to walk into a church that has no set ritual for worship or teaching or study or prayer or fellowship. In my time, the charismatic movement touched the spontaneous law of the Spirit at first, but ritual won out ultimately. That ritual may not look like the traditional sing a hymn, say a prayer, hear a sermon, say a prayer, sing a hymn, receive benediction-style church service of old, but it’s still a ritual. We can make a law out of anything…and we do.
The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.
Psalm 19:8 HCSB
The Lord has never failed to check me when I place my faith in the ritual instead of Him, and He never will, but that doesn’t absolve me of my responsibility. I have been given one job, one work: to believe in God as the Solution to every problem and the Source of every need. How He solves my problems and the way He provides for me is His to do – how and when and the way He chooses. When I place my faith in His Person – when I believe in God and not the ritual – then my life reflects the spontaneity and power and wonder of the Creator of the Universe.