Going Through The Motions

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Five of our Prayer and Fasting week.

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Most of us got exposed to a ritualistic religion. So, we tend to look at rituals with suspicion. But, we should not miss out on rituals. We have our own evangelical rituals, that is, the water baptism and the breaking of the bread. However, we need to avoid “Ritual without reality.” (That is the fifth mark of toxic spirituality.) 
Ritual without reality means we focus on the outward form and merely go through the motions. … The point to remember is that God calls us to walk not merely in the rituals but in the reality. Otherwise the rituals, no matter how beautiful, becomes empty after a while. [1]
For example, when we attend our Sunday worship services out of habit or just to check an item in our “Christian” to-do list, it becomes a ritual without reality. We are missing out on the significance of our gathering together as the church. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV) The issue is not just being present but also participating by being an encouragement to others.

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You may be asking why we focused on those signs of toxic spirituality these past few days. We have to diagnose first before we prescribe. We have to identify the toxin that is poisoning us before we can detox. We have defined the problem, so now we could deal with it. 

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After diagnosing the problem of the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:2-4), the Lord Jesus prescribed His solution. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” (v. 5a) Before we could repent and renew our fellowship with God, we should remember from where we have fallen. Now that we saw the marks of toxic spirituality, we need to identify which among them kept or is keeping us from enjoying intimacy with God. We need to confess and ask God for forgiveness when we see those traits in our heart.
Moving from toxic spirituality to true spirituality is challenging. But it’s possible when we begin to live from the inside out. It’s time we went for the real thing. [2]

Step #5 To Detox: Review the five features of toxic spirituality. Rate yourself per feature. What’s your top issue as far as toxic spirituality? Evaluate how it became a problem in your heart. Then, ask God for forgiveness.

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[1] Edmund Chan, Cultivating Your Inner Life: Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Discipleship Today 2nd Edition (SG: Covenant Evangelical Free Church, 2011), 52-52. Emphasis added.

[2] Ibid, 53.


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