Baptism and Holy Communion and liturgy and a church that looks Catholic.
” We aren’t into all that “religious ritual.”
OK… here we go again.
Looks can be deceiving.
There can be a certain amount of ritual as the church goes about worshipping the Lord in Word and Sacrament. Things ought be done rightly and in good order.
But the focus is not on ritual. The focus is on Jesus Christ and His promises.
The focus is on the non-religious. It is on what Jesus has done for us. What He is doing… for us. And what He will yet do…for us. That is not being “religious” in the right understanding of the word. That is trusting in faith.
Religion comes from our end. It is what we do to try to attain holiness. It is our efforts to become more acceptable to God. That is “religion” in it’s most bald sense.
The irony here is that many churches that pride themselves on not being “religious”, because they reject a more formal liturgical worship and an understanding of the true presence of Christ in the Sacraments, are actually MORE religious, even though in appearance they might look less religious.
They may worship in a warehouse with no altar and folding chairs set up, and the pastor may have shorts and a Hawaiian shirt on, and traditional Christian hymns are traded out for contemporary Christian rock music…but they are actually being more religious.
Not because of those things specifically, but because the Word is being internalized.
The external nature of the Word (God coming to us from outside of ourselves) is turned upside down, and now the whole enterprise revolves around ‘us’ and what we are doing to try and make this Word real, and meaningful in our own lives. Worship then, becomes a project of the self. Our emotions, our experience, our comittment and seriousness. That IS RELIGION.
The external Word. God comes TO US. The direction is all important.
Many churches that have a more formal litugical worship can get it wrong also and confuse the direction of the promises. Roman Catholicism is a good example of this misdirection. The direction in their Sacrament of the Altar is from us to God. (backwards)
This is why a right understanding of the Word and the Sacraments is so important. This is why a right understanding of the true nature of man’s will (bound to sin) is so important.
When we take over and place ourselves at the center, place the emphasis on our decision, our seriousness, our striving…things get turned upside down in a hurry and the gospel can just disappear.
And what you can end up with then…is “religion”… no matter how high, or low your worship style is.