Tradition, Ritual, Relationship – Can they Co-Exist?

Hollow traditions and rituals have left a salty taste in the mouth of true4-13-2012 PREACH worshipers. This could be due to the institutional church’s landscape drastically changing in the last fifteen years. Believers are confused, dazed and even more fearful than ever. There are various reasons this climate of uncertainty exists. Everything from misappropriated church funds to improperly trained clergy leaders are a few of the components that leave the faithful feeling more vulnerable than empowered. Our question now becomes, how are we to love God, demonstrate the compassion of Christ while at the same time meet one anothers needs? If there are so many in the body still hurting and despondent how do we set their feet on the path to total healing if we’re still struggling with the “rules” of Christianity? Where is the healthy, viable, demonstrative act of love among us! Is it possible to disciple people to the point of salvation if we’re confused about the role church ritual plays in the body?

One thing that must be noted is that not every tradition or ritual is necessarily harmful or detrimental. Our God has initiated many rituals that were healthy and beneficial to His people. Regimes such as prayer, fasting and fellowship gatherings edify disciples of Christ. These routines should never be frowned upon. It is the man made rituals however, that are sure to make us feel oppressed, growth stunted spiritually and powerless. It’s in this facade that breeds an atmosphere devoid of God’s presence. God does not desire us to become robotic automatons in our interaction with Him or each other for that matter. God has created us to be reactionary people who are fully able to respond to a desperate world that needs concrete answers for the calamities that befall them. We’ve been created  for relationship and His truth trumps the fabricated peace that emanates from man inspired rituals. God created us for His pleasure! In His majesty He’s chosen to share the galaxies with us to advance His Kingdom!

Healthy traditions should be implemented only if and when they point us to a deeper place in our spiritual walk. When God gave Israel directives to follow, these tenets were put in place to focus their hearts on the soon coming Messiah. Since His arrival in the earth was fast approaching, these life instructions were set to enhance individuals personally. This “type” was a precursor to how God was about to change the way He communicates with man. The corporate worship and condemnation style of approaching God was now part of a dying dispensation.

He was transitioning Israel into a relationship born in the heart of every person in a one on one deal (salvation). Religious dogma or denominational restrictions were never God’s plan for us. We were designed to have Faith Family gatherings steeped in the love. This was the model Jesus illustrated daily while walking the earth with the disciples. The last supper was such a stellar example of how He chose small, intimate settings to mentor His people. In these environments Jesus deposited everything the disciples needed into their hearts which prepared them for ministry. Can we honestly affirm that the “churches” we visit weekly and support financially resemble this model?

Traditional institutional church environments have served an integral purpose for a season. There is no question about that fact but in the times which we now live, there should be groaning in our spirit as we mature. We should be ready to lead “Faith Families”. We can branch out to guide, endorse and teach to make disciples. Jesus wanted leaders to be among the flock as He was; to be approachable, loving and re-affirming. The Faith Family atmosphere breeds room for this kind of harmony. In such a setting, there is little room for the grace of God to be abused. This examination of ritual and relationship leads us now to the meat of the matter. How can we create a balanced view of rituals? We will not find this through religion or denominations since that only gives us a glimpse or awareness that something is amiss.

Ritual and tradition provided order in our spiritual immaturity until the Holy Spirit was released within the bosom of believers who desired Him. Once He was unleashed to the body, our spiritual DNA was prophetically altered. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is yet alive in us, His body. He  releases the yoke breaking anointing that destroys bondage or any other dysfunction. As alarming as this may seem, He is not welcomed in many traditional church environments. In His absence, only a form of Godliness has prevailed. Our frailty as humans compels us to rely on the “rules” instead of the spirit of God for purpose. However, Christ now desires the complacent to re-awaken. Modern day disciples should desire to “rightly divide” the truth of God’s word yet respect traditions, history and God breathed initiatives.

The Faith Family structure permits loving correction while employing Godly wisdom. We understand that the former foundation was to establish discipline. It was to lead us to a place of maturity. We are called to inspire, comfort and bear one anothers burdens while equipping others for the work they’re called to do. Faith Families teach us how to pay it forward so that the body will continue to flourish. Iron does indeed sharpen iron when we follow the Lord’s plan. Let us endeavor to seek a healthy “Faith Family” model in order to advance the kingdom for our Lord.

Be encouraged & blessed child of the most high God.

 

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Author: The Healing Place Ministries

Denise J. Williams was born in Brooklyn, New York & holds a doctorate in biblical studies. More of her work can be found on her blog http://www.thebrokenvessel.wordpress.com​ Her first book, The Healing Of A Broken Vessel was released in 2009. Her second offering, Chambers of the Believing Heart was released in June 2012. Her objective is to inspire the modern day believer to seek an authentic, passionate relationship with the Lord.​ Both books can be found on Amazon. ​ Denise has over twenty years of ministry experience. Her past outreach efforts included ministering to nursing home residents and tutoring young women in reading. She currently hosts Healing workshops in the Jacksonville area to empower women to be Kingdom builders in the body of Christ. In addition, she is a photojournalist who contributes weekly to The Florida Star newspaper, a voice over artist and on occasion hosts the radio show IMPACT sponsored by The Florida Star newspaper on WCGL 94.7 FM a gospel station in the greater Jacksonville, FL area. Denise is fully persuaded that believers can be viable catalysts to expose the world to God’s unconditional love, healing power and authority for such a time as this!

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