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RELIGION: FIXATED ON EXTERNALS
Plays Out in Costume
Among all of the first principles to be emphasized is that G-d and his kingdom are not within the realm of the material world.
The Kingdom of G-d is not measured, touched, seen, nor reached through travel. Any practices which turn the focus of believers from the spiritual to any material thing is a misunderstanding of the gospel. Traditions which emphasize or protect doctrines which externalize elements of faith ought to be subject to revision. I am speaking more about elements of worship in religion which might be externalized and less about the behaviors which express living out one's personal faith.
Costume does not make the man or the woman! Neither does costume portray true spiritual character or authority. It is the life within that person that distinguishes him/her. Movies and television routinely portray "men of G-d" costumed in special religious garb. Religious garments is a tradition and tangible way to denote rank or authority within the religious institution, just as in the military. The world goes along with this thinking, because it has been nurtured for centuries as part of religion (a religious paradigm.) But this attribute of religion is shallow and erroneous. I assure you, priestly garb would find no acceptance with Jesus or any of his apostles.
Within religion, clerical garments (costume) is used to separate and denote those of various spiritual ranks. When men or women are able to wear spirituality as an ecclesiastical garment they are clearly saying to the world that they have superior spiritual status and knowledge of G-d which sets them apart from the rest of us. Whether or not they believe they need to wear these kinds of costumes in order to be true to their calling, or perhaps honor G-d, I do not know. I do know, however, that Jesus never commanded for spiritual men to dress up in order to point to their status. This contradicts the principle of external things being less important than the internal. One of the things that Jesus noted about Pharisees was that there was pride connected to both their offices their costume. They wore them publicly and expected deference to be given to them.
performance is born out of practiced rituals. Activities that
occur in church houses consist of a series of programs, also
called orders of worship. Each part in an order of worship,
whether done by one person or several, can be viewed
traditionally as either sacramental or performance. In
sacramental worship it does not matter too much whether the
details are performed well or not. Ritual stands for itself from
beginning to end. It is not so important to introduce any
personality or interpretation into it.
Ritualism in Christian religions bears a strong relationship to paganism or shamanism. Ritualism is actually a magic rite. In it through a particular rite or ceremony using "sacred" elements or ingredients, God or gods are supposedly invoked and appeased. In highly stylistic ceremonies the congregation is fixed upon watching and hearing within the natural world. Today in the New Covenant, G-d is not found in the material realm or ritualistic forms.
Entertainment enlivens church performances
There are other kinds of 'worship services' in particular those that Protestant denominations follow there own 'orders of worship.' These are not meant to be sacramental. In such worship services every part of the order of service hinges on an individuals performance. Those congregations who have a more spiritual awareness make less of performance and stress the inner spiritual message. Part by part the elements of the Sunday or Sabbath ritual unfold. The congregation is kept entertained a little or more. If the choir sings well it is a good performance. If the soloist is doing a special number all of the congregation (audience) carefully scrutinizes every aspect of the performance, of course it is usually sub-par and amateurish but we tolerate sub-par because church does not normally have quality entertainment available (unless they are a very affluent church who can pay professionals.) Of course, it is the dream of most mega-churches to have all performances of professional quality.
The pastoral sermon or teaching is the high point of the order of worship in evangelical churches. Leaders are challenged to keep the congregation interested or tuned in for a certain amount of time. The best performers are the most sought after in ministry as they have the gift of communication and persuasion and know how to enhance an otherwise dry message with the right amount of drama or emotion to keep the congregational audience responsive. Modern teachers are faced with a similar challenge competing with professional entertainers who have the eyes and ears of the kids outside the classroom.
From the opening prelude to the closing of the recessional with the organ pulling out all stops, the church has completed another program; another in its own religious ritual. The performers have performed upon their respective stages, the audience has 'spectated' from their pews.
The less spiritual the church, the more the emphasis remains upon performance and show. The more the demand for performance the greater the performance pressure. The greater the self awareness, the less the ability to sense G-d in the parts. Conversely the more spiritual the ministry the less there is a sense that was performed. A transparent minister is G-d conscious and less self conscious.
What is the purpose of Christians coming together? I believe that it is to engage in what Jesus calls "True Worship." True worship enhances the spiritual life and experience of all who participate. It does not depend upon one man or one woman's performance. All are edified. All are encouraged. They will be able to say, " - of a truth God was present among us." It should not be forgotten that a greater part of each coming together is to solicit G-d's manifestation among them. G-d wishes to reveal his glory but this will not occur with our focus and attention of vain religious performance. See why we gather.
Understanding Home Fellowships