We all have rituals. It’s what makes up every day of our lives, they include cleaning your teeth, feeding yourself, your thought life, what you read and watch, where you go, people you do life with. The daily rituals of our lives make up a narrative that displays what we really believe, irrespective of what we say. 95% of our lives are generally unchanging day to day ‘walking the dog’ rituals.
The old testament is full of rituals. Law after law of do’s and don’ts, list after list of names and endless routines for the sacrifices, offerings and festivals of God’s chosen people.
As a modern day liberal Christian there’s a danger in thinking that Christ came to set us free from all this Law, but actually Jesus said, he didn’t come to abolish but to fulfil the law! All those rituals the Israelites were commanded to fulfil were there to help them break their ingrained pattern of Egyptian idolatry. To break the narrative of their previous slave lives and to create a new cultural identity. It’s a massive undertaking. Our biblical rituals (reading the bible, prayer, fasting, tithing) do not in any way earn salvation (forgiveness of sins) but they massively help us to break the idolatrous culture we have grown up and live in, and so helps us live in a different realm. The film Karate Kid has a great example of the power of rituals.
The young hero Danny LaRusso is getting bullied so approaches Mr Miyagi (Karate expert) to learn to fight. But for weeks he doesn’t train him but has him doing mundane tasks such as painting his fence and washing his car. He’s instructed very specifically on how to ritualistically complete the tasks. Using very deliberate repetitive movements, to wax on, wax off, when washing the car over and over. When Danny finally says he has had enough and wants to learn to fight, Mr Miyagi throws a punch and Danny blocks it without even thinking, using the ‘Wax off’ learned movement! His boring mundane ritual (that many push away because they have an unhealthy liberal Christian attitude that Jesus came so they could please themselves) was training his reactions so that when danger and difficulty comes, his natural ‘wax off’ instinct serves him well. We must get an appetite for the seemingly mundane in order to live in the extraordinary!
What are your rituals? What great habits do you have that you perpetually repeat day after day, constantly reenforcing the positive reality of you really are, a child of the living God?
It’s not being religious, it’s not earning brownie points; it’s maintaining behaviours to position you in truth, they’re strengthening your inner posture daily so when difficulty comes ‘wax off!’ If you want your life to grow, if you are bored of the same old problems and want some new ones, assess what’s making up your day that creates your reality, good or bad.
Position good healthy habits to help maintain you in the constant reality of the grace of God. You’ll be amazed how differently you react when trouble then comes… ‘Wax off!’
A daily devotion for a better way of living.