In my last post, I submitted to you that living sacramentally rather than ritualistically, was central to growing in grace and discipline.
The word 'Sacrament' was first used by the early Church father Tertullian, which was the Latin translation of the Greek word 'mystery.'It is defined as a. an outward sign of an inward reality, and b. a means of grace. The Protestant Church recognizes only two sacraments - that of baptism and breaking of bread. The Catholic Church recognizes seven; confirmation, penance, ordination, marriage, last rites, baptism and the Eucharist. I do believe that the only two Sacraments which are foundational to the church are those of communion and baptism, but do not wish to enter a debate which has not been resolved in almost 20 centuries!
I simply want to submit to you, that living sacramentally is vital in growing in grace and discipline. What do I mean? Let me use the example of the sacrament of marriage.When a new husband and wife have sexual intimacy after they have made their vows and exchanged rings, we understand that they are 'consummating' their marriage. Their union is not attained in sexual union. Sexual union is an outward sign of an inward reality that 'the two have become one.'It is not 'in order to be one,' but 'because they are already one.'It is not a ritual(hopefully!) as much as it is a sacrament. And it is a means of grace to them too.
I believe we can pray, meditate on scripture and fast, either sacramentally or ritualistically. The latter approach is spiritual discipline in order to get right, or get close to God. The former is spiritual discipline because we have been made right and been united with Christ.
Spiritual discipline as an overflow of the believer's justification by and reconciliation with God, is not really discipline at all. Do we think Jesus went off
to solitary places to pray because he thought that His Father would be displeased with Him if he didn't? Not at all! He knew that He and the Father were one, and He simply needed an appropriate place to express that union and a fresh means of grace
to be resourced by his Source.
I believe we can also give and serve either sacramentally or ritualistically. The former will be a grateful response to an inward reality, the latter an outward activity in the hope that we will be blessed and served ourselves.
So how do you and I live more sacramentally and less ritualistically, growing in both discipline and grace? Would love your thoughts.