There is a big difference between what we call right and what we call rites. One is empty, and the other is teeming with life. The shelf life of a loaf of bread is not very long. Manna was good for only one day. Day old bread had no place in the survival of Israel. God knows the difference between rights and rites.
In 1879 a German chemist accidently discovered Saccharine (C7H5NO3S) while at John Hopkins University. It was originally thought to be a boon for diabetics as a sugar substitute. It did not take businessmen long to realize that this “poor man’s sugar” was cheaper than the real thing and it soon found its way into every conceivable food product. Saccharine sounds like sacred. Satan has introduced his own substitutes for what is “sacred,” and the world (and even the church) has developed a taste for it. Besides, it’s cheaper than the real thing.
The prophet Micah, like all prophets, struggled with the satisfied, self-righteous hypocrisy that permeates all religion. Religion is basically a man-made thing. It is the saccharine of spiritual authenticity. Every spiritually authentic thing has its man-made substitute. It is a small step going from right to ritual.
Micah spoke of Israel needing to “roll in the dust.” Today people laugh at the “Holy Rollers.” It is when the “rolling” becomes “institutionalized” that it become ridiculous. This is not to say that in a sea of hysteria there is not a genuine repentant sinner here and there, truly seeking God. I am sure there is. The Grace Brethren bring out their foot-washing basins as an appendage to the Lord’s Supper. Our world, for the most part is a sandal-less world. Foot washing is not necessarily the “right” way to demonstrate humility or to honor one another today. Baptism is right and something that should never become a rite or a ritual, but it will become just that on almost any given Sunday. Real baptism is less about joining something than it is renouncing sin and the world of sin. Pentecostals working up emotion to bring down heaven is as much a religious alchemy as many singing the same hymn and praying the exact same prayer every Sunday at the Lord’s Table. Worship by rote is a ritual, if in fact not a rut.
We cannot wash someone’s feet on Sunday and treat them like dust (or nothing) on Monday. That’s not right. Micah, went on to say, “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.“ Mi 6:8
Being on automatic pilot may be fine for an aircraft and cruise control for automobiles, but real worship is too important, too precious, and too dangerous to be entrusted to such man-made devices. Many will be on cruise control this Sunday. There can be no Saccharine for the sacred. Mormons love Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses love Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s easy to love your own. It is easy to become addicted to the man-made sweets of some mutual admiration society. Such was Samaria and Jerusalem in the days of Micah. Without a heaven-made love, worship may be your rite, but it will never be real. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. For God is love.” – id