How easy it is to fall into the trap of "ritual religion"! So many Christians know little of a vital, fresh, day-by-day relationship with the Lord. I did not say an inactive relationship. Christians have never been more active!
How easy it is to fall into the trap of "ritual religion"! So many Christians know little of a vital, fresh, day-by-day relationship with the Lord. I did not say an inactive relationship. Christians have never been more active! The tyranny of the urgent is no theoretical problem. Many a believer jumps off the Sunday treadmill of activities only to hop on the weekday treadmill of meetings, appointments, functions, rehearsals, clubs, engagements, banquets, studies, committees, and retreats. I heartily agree with the one who said, "Much of our religious activity today is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life!"1
That's a harsh truth to ponder. As a pastor, I hope to help you cultivate a consistent and meaningful walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, a relationship that thrives without needing to be pumped up and recharged with an endless succession of activities. I would wish that we all might know our Lord in such a significant way that this divine companionship, this healthy vertical relationship, becomes a steady, serene, daily communion. We must find ways to live beyond the grind of ritual religion.
In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer writes,
I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.
Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity that is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship and that servile imitation of the world that marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.2
Psalm 63 is David's song about what it means to have a desperate longing for God, and what it means to be fully satisfied in Him alone. It is not a song of activity but of quietness. David didn't write a march to impel busy feet, but a sonnet to woo thirsty souls.
Believe it or not, many people don't know they're thirsty. You may not feel a deep longing to cultivate an ongoing personal interaction with God. That's probably because you have dulled your spiritual senses with activity. Career activity. Social activity. Religious activity. If so, your first response may be to slow your pace, to simplify.