Maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age. At times, deep maturity is evident in a person whose years are brief and fragile.
A few years ago, I had an authentic and engaging conversation with an intelligent young man, who was wise beyond his years. He was always in search of the Truth. I know few who have come even close to his knowledge of God.
He was a curious young man; he had a deep yearning to understand every religion. He made it his business to learn about everyone’s beliefs. One day, it happened that it was my turn to sit across the breakfast table with him. His curiosity was coming from the absolute source of his faith. At that moment, he wanted to know about my belief. At first, I noticed a hint of skepticism peeking through his words. Yet he was eager to hear the truth of God’s faithfulness in my life’s journey.
I gladly shared my spiritual beliefs with him without hesitation, as I always get fired up when talking about the evidence of God’s grace and His presence in my life. I shared my Testimony with him, explaining how God miraculously showed up in my life. He listened, and as we exchanged thoughts, a genuine smile appeared on his handsome face. He said, “You’re definitely onto Something”. He then continued, “So how do you describe your belief in view of religion? Do you consider yourself a religious person?”
“Aha!”, I said, “Now, that’s the question that I love to hear! Because the answer is the key which unlocks the door to many questions…
Yes, I’m a follower of Christ Jesus and I’m called a Christian. But I don’t see myself as a religious person ‘per se’… look…, I can simply tell you this: I don’t look at it as though I follow a religion, but rather I have a relationship with God.”
When I finished speaking, he was really moved. He said, “I love that… relationship vs. religion.” He was interested to know more.
I continued, “If we practice only religious rituals and call ourselves religious, while not having a close and trustworthy relationship with God (the kind of relationship best described as one between a loving Father and his child), how can we possibly live a righteous life? I don’t think the religious rituals can ‘fix’ our sin problem; it’s our daily relationship with God through Christ Jesus which will daily rescue us from the mire of sin. It won’t be done all at once, rather, it’s one step at a time.”
I went on to say, “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to undermine any religion, or its rituals. Rituals are inherently good, but empty, man-made rituals [which, possibly, nullify the Word of God] are wrong. Any ritual that replaces, obscures, or diminishes a vibrant relationship with Christ, is practiced in vain. Repetitious prayers, or even praise songs repeated without wholehearted devotion to the Creator can lead to dullness in worship, rather than the free expression of one’s heart, mind, and soul before God.
If you give careful attention to God’s word, you will see that all of history (from Abraham’s time in the Old Testament, up until the beginning of the New Testament) points to the coming of Christ. Most of the Old Testament’s rituals were never intended to be a permanent part of our worship; they were only foreshadowing the events in the New Testament.
Christianity, is not ritual-based. Rather, it is relationship-based.The only ‘liturgy’ or ‘rituals’ commanded in the New Testament are: baptism and communion.
Baptism requires water, [Matthew 28:19] and communion requires bread and the cup [1 Corinthians 11:25].
The living God through Jesus has made those who believe in Christ His own children.” Then, I pointed him to the verse—[John 1:12 | NIV]
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
At this point in our discussion, the Truth was spoken and passed on with a deep understanding, because the Lord was in the midst of our conversation. The wise young man who was sitting across the table from me was astonished and delightfully satisfied with the evidence we both had before our eyes [the Word of God]. He was impelled to speak and with much excitement in his voice, his words echoed the truth loudly,
”One God, the Father. One advocate, the Son. And One helper, the Holy Spirit—Trinity.”
I added, “Evidently, Trinity [the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three in One] is the reason we are here, to encounter His love through relationship, not through empty rituals.”
Before I moved from the table with a smile on my face and joy in my heart, I looked at this young man, truly seeing his innermost soul through his electrified eyes, and analytic mind. I said to him, “Young man, Now, YOU are ‘Onto Something’ …you’re a messenger!”