Relationship Over Ritual (365 Days of Daring Faith — DAY 240)
Hebrews 13:9 (NLT)
So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.
Too many people believe that following God involves abiding by a list of rules, rituals, and regulations. Of course, as believers there are certain things that we choose not to do and that the Holy Spirit helps us to refrain from doing. But in God’s kingdom, our maturity is not based upon how many rules we follow. Our existence and growth are based upon God’s grace.
One of the most fundamental truths about Christianity is that we develop a relationship with God. He loves us unconditionally and unapologetically. God’s grace saves us from the consequences of sin and carefully guides into the path of becoming more like Christ. It isn’t enough to embrace grace and then try to live on our own. We can’t grow spiritually in our own strength. The outcome of our growth will not be because of us, it will be because of Christ.
The rest of the world lives by the letter of the law. But Christians live by grace. And it is grace that helps us to become the person God wants us to be, not who we want to be in our own power. Like clay on a potter’s wheel, what we are shaped into is all up to the potter. The clay doesn’t determine anything; the potter does. Likewise, we don’t determine how we grow or what we become; God does.
We don’t get saved by promising to do charity work or help old ladies cross busy highways or adopt abandoned children. Any good thing we do then as believers is not because we did it. It is because of the grace of God that resides in us and flows through us that these good things come about. One of the big problems in many churches is that people start to believe that if I just tithe this amount every week, or if I teach Sunday School, or if I don’t cheat on my taxes, or if I do any number of good things, I’m living up to my faith. That isn’t always the case.
God doesn’t want ritual; he wants relationship. God doesn’t want a rule abiding follower; he wants a grace-embracing believer. God really wants our hearts. He wants us to love him and trust him above everything else. And when we love and trust him, any number of good deeds will flow from our lives. Because it isn’t us that is doing it; it is God and his grace. It is God’s grace that is making us grow and grace that is making us good.
“Our good deeds do not ‘save’ us. That’s the work of God’s grace, through Christ. But they do result in glory to our Father in heaven.”
— Neal Letteney