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The Problem: Dry Ritual Without Relationship
For many believers, Christianity has become a religion of rules devoid of a relationship. We know we should have a quiet time, serve in church, avoid sin, and so on. But all this outward conformity easily lacks the inward reality of actually connecting with God. We act spiritual, without ever experiencing the presence of the Spirit. And that is a sad, yet common experience for many today.
How did this happen? Partly because we’ve made faith all about knowledge over an encounter with God. We prize book learning, doctrinal precision, and intellectual comprehension of Scripture— forgetting you can memorize the Bible and miss the Lord of the Bible. Information in our heads doesn’t necessarily lead to transformation in our hearts. Why? Because head knowledge alone breeds pride, heart encounters with Christ breed authentic life change.
The Pattern: Experiencing God Transforms Us
Yet Scripture shows us a better way. When Moses saw the burning bush, he experienced God’s awe-inspiring presence (Exodus 3). After Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, he walked with a limp— an everyday reminder of his personal encounter with God (Gen. 32:22-32). And when Isaiah had a powerful vision of God on his throne, he was utterly transformed forever (Isaiah 6).
For early followers of Jesus, faith wasn’t a dead tradition, but a living, vibrant relationship. Acts 2:42 says the early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” These early disciplines led to a powerful encounter with the Lord: “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (v. 43). Even repentance is meant to be an encounter, as we turn from sin and into the forgiving arms of Christ.
The Invitation: Taste and See Jesus
This is God’s invitation to us: not just to know about Him, but to experience Him— to taste His goodness and to know that He is good (Psalm 34:8). And as we behold the Lord’s glory, we are transformed into His image (2 Cor 3:18), which is the goal of the Christian life. The more we experience His presence and power, the more we reflect Christ to the world.
So, what areas of your faith have become dry rituals rather than genuine encounters with the Living God? Consider these aspects of the Christian life that are meant to connect us with God:
Experiencing God’s Presence in Worship
Worship isn’t just singing songs or listening to a praise band— it’s meeting with the Lord, captivated by His beauty. Through worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24), we experience God’s presence in a life-changing way.
Experiencing God’s Power in Trials
Even our trials can lead us into deeper encounters with God’s peace (Phil. 4:6-7), comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4), and strength that carries us through. As we turn to Him, we experience His sustaining grace.
Experiencing God’s Character Through the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) are not just moral qualities. No, as we walk in step with the Spirit, He produces His fruit in our lives, whereby we experience His patience, joy, and kindness from the inside out.
The Invitation: Draw Near to God
God promises if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (Jam. 4:8). So the ball is in our court. Will you accept His invitation? Will you ask the Lord for fresh encounters with Him, pray daily to behold His beauty, and let your head knowledge fuel your pursuit of heart change through experiencing Jesus?
Remember, God invites us into an intimate walk with Him, where we encounter His presence daily through prayer, worship, Scripture, and simply seeking Him. As we taste and see His goodness, we are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. So, let’s shed religious rule-keeping and wholeheartedly pursue a relationship with Him. Let’s draw near to Jesus today, and every day, expecting divine encounters that change our hearts, fuel our worship, compel us to share about Him, and ultimately fulfill our deepest purpose— which is to know and experience God through Christ our Lord.
So what are you waiting for?