Matthew 15:3 “Jesus replied, ‘Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?’”
Isn’t this something that we have in our churches today? We have tradition. What is tradition? The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. Tradition can also be a doctrinal belief to have divine authority though not in the Scriptures, in particular.
These customs might not have started as traditions, but that is what they turned into at a later date. I think some of our beliefs or customs in many of our churches and organizations have superseded the Word of God. For example, to be a member of a church there are certain things that would be, what I call secondary, that you must believe in. Paul told us to stand on the Gospel as outlined in 1 Corinthians 15. But so often we add on to what is required; which Christ does not require from His Church.
It might be that we have things added on so that we can keep the unity and original purpose of the movement or organization, but soon these things begin to overpower the simple Word of God. They become a tradition.
It is not that tradition is inherently bad, but it is important to understand that man-made tradition should never go against Scripture or to be elevated above God Himself.
Mark 2:24 “The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’” We see how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day looked at Jesus through colored glasses. And we see this being done in church organizations today as well. Jesus said to them that here is what David did. Why didn’t you judge him? If they had lived in David’s time I am sure that they would have done just that; judged him. The Pharisees were obviously trying to find something wrong with Jesus, and so when it came to His actions they were what we would call “nitpicking.”
We see this type of vision through “colored glasses” with politicians today. Those we do not like, we will nitpick to find something wrong with, even if there are others that we do like who do the same things or worse. We see this today with the political correctness mentality. We see it with affirmative action when it comes to our universities, etc. We see it in our homes among couples, siblings, etc. As a matter of fact, in most relationships this is something that comes out. We need to have a clear humble vision, and not a clouded vision (looking through colored glasses).
Is it possible that we pass judgment on people based more on what we think (tradition) than what the Bible says? Isn’t this what happened when Christ’s disciples went through the corn field and ate. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were offended because it was on the Sabbath that they ate from a field of corn as they journeyed.
Do we find that we are judging people today because they do not think the way you think or I think? We see someone smoking, going to the movies, dancing, drinking, or whatever, and we judge them because that goes against what we think is right or wrong and not necessarily what God says in the Bible?
Tradition goes along with slavery and as Charles Swindoll says in his book, “Grace Awakening”:
- We can emphasize works over grace.
- We can opt for giving a list of do’s and don’ts.
- We can leave no room for any ‘gray areas.’
- We can cultivate a judgmental attitude towards those who may not agree or co-operate with our plan.
One old Saint said: “Love God with all your heart and then do as you please.”
Mark 7:6-8 “Jesus replied, “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 from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
It would seem to me that we have the tendency to do the same thing today in our churches that the Pharisees did back in the days of Jesus. Our traditions often set aside the commands of God. For example, we are told that we should love one another. However, because of our distinct denominations we do not find love one for another (denominationally), but more often jealousy, bitterness, and even hate with an unwillingness to unite in prayer and the work of the Lord; just the opposite of love.
It would seem that every church (every denomination) and even every missions movement has certain by-laws, convictions, etc. that govern their organization or body. That is fine, but the problem lies in the fact that these by-laws and personal convictions, just like the traditions of the Pharisees, can eventually supersede the simple commands of God.
Jesus did not say ‘destroy all traditions,’ but we are not to establish them along with God’s commands and above the simplicity that is in Christ as we further His Gospel.