Truth, Tradition, and Trespass

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” — Isaiah 29:13-14

 Have you ever questioned why you believe what you believe? Why you do the things you do for God? Why you follow certain rites, rituals, traditions, and celebrations? For me, this concept of questioning has taken me on quite the journey; not an easy one, but a necessary one. It has cost me…family, friends, comfort, and so much more. When I questioned and then allowed myself to be open to the fact that what I had had been taught in church might not be what the word of God says…my world turned upside down. Is it worth the cost? Absolutely…there is no turning back. In my questioning and my bible reading, and my prayer, and my researching I have discovered things in the modern church that are not supported by scripture; things like what day the Sabbath is on…I had always heard that it didn’t matter what day we choose, as long as we choose a day. Did you know the bible says in Genesis 2:3 that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. The funny thing is, I always assumed Sunday was the seventh day…however in researching I discovered that in fact Saturday is the seventh day (that’s why our calendar is the way it is!) Not only is Saturday the seventh day and therefore the Sabbath, but there are also certain things we should and should not do on the Sabbath that are very clearly outlined in Scripture. Who knew?!!!

And then there are the holidays that we celebrate…Christmas…Easter…all well meaning, but still steeped in pagan traditions that we have “Christianized”. And considering that God says in several places in scripture not to worship Him the way the pagans worship their gods…not to take on pagan practices…does this make it alright? Just because “that’s not what it means to me” comes from our lips doesn’t make it right…Isn’t it more important to consider what it means to God?

For years I blindly followed what everyone else in church was doing…until I came to the realization that blind faith is really no faith at all…what “god” was I following? The more I dig into His word, the more I realize what an amazing, awesome God I serve. 1 Chronicles 28:9 says “…serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, he will reject you forever.” When I came across that verse the other day, the words “willing mind” jumped out at me…we must be willing to do what He asks us to do, go where he tells us to go, be who He says we are to be.

As I was watching a video the other day, this quote from the Barna Group really hit home. “The problem of the Christian Church is not that people lack a complete set of beliefs; the problem is that they have a full slate of beliefs in mind, which they think are consistent with biblical teachings, and they are neither open to being proven wrong or learning new insights. It may well be that spiritual evaluation is so uncommon because people fear that the results might suggest the need for different growth strategies or for more aggressive engagement in the growth process. No matter what the underlying reason is, the bottom line among both the clergy and laity was indifference toward their acknowledged lack of evaluation.”

So the question is…Are we willing to sacrifice our man-made traditions and the things we’ve been taught in exchange for His truth…His ways? Or are we like the people in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Or are we like the people in Mark 7:7-8, “But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Ladies and gentlemen it is time to “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) It is time to, “Obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) It is time to, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Here is a link to a blog that I think does a wonderful job explaining the origins of Christmas.