Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tradition or Teaching?

Sometimes the lines between Biblical teaching and traditions are very easily blurred. How do we prevent the traditions of man from becoming the standards by which we hold ourselves, and others, accountable? It's a very fine line.

If we are constantly in the Word, I think it is much easier to discern the truth from tradition. I have to say that I love traditions. I enjoy taking part in ancient traditions as well as creating traditions of my own. I think that they're a wonderful way to make our lives more beautiful and enjoyable. The danger is that these beloved traditions can become a snare. At the very least, they create feelings of guilt for some believers when they may not be able to keep certain man-made rules. I think it is extremely important to discern between God's teachings and our personal preferances.

In Judaisms of Jesus' day, oral law became rules that it's followers had to abide by and Jesus' taught repeatedly against such things because God does not hold man accountable to OUR standards...we will only be held accountable to HIS standards. For Christianity, it has become much of the same. This is a very hard thing to articulate because at what point does one draw the line and say that a tradition is preventing us from doing the will of the Father? Often in congregations, we create a set of rules that members of the congregation must abide by if they want to continue as (or become) a "member." Usually, these rules include things taught in the Bible, but quite often they also include some extra rules as well. By whose authority do we rule over our brothers and sisters in such a fashion? Too often, we hold these man-made rules as a higher standard than the teachings of the Bible; we don't want to judge our brothers and sisters when it comes to obedience in regards to Biblical teaching, but we will readily judge someone according to a rule we've made for our congregation...I personally have never been the recipient of this type of judgment, but have witnessed it in virtually every congregation I've been a participant in. This is the very reason there are so many believers who truly are believers, but they will have nothing to do with a church institution.

The only solution I can see is that each believer be immersed in the Word themselves (not simply relying on others to teach them what the Bible says) so that we all know the difference between true Biblical teaching and what is tradition. When a situation arises where a Believer is being judged by other believers because of a man-made rule, we need to speak up for the truth. We must first remove the log from our own eye before picking at the splinter in our brothers eye (Matt. 7:3-5).

Mark 7:6-9, "Jesus answered them, 'Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites — as it is written, these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from Me. Their worship of Me is useless, because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines.' You depart from God's command and hold onto human tradition. Indeed,' He said to them, 'you have made a fine art of departing from God's command in order to keep your tradition!'"

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