Tradition and True Worship
Tradition can hinder your spiritual health (Mark 7:1-23). The Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to collect evidence to condemn Jesus. They noticed Jesus’ disciples were eating food with unwashed hands. That wasn’t permitted.
Like many traditions today, handwashing began legitimately. The washings in Exodus 30:19-20 taught the priests that a pure heart is needed to enter God’s presence. The next step was to make the symbol a required spiritual exercise for everyone. Finally, handwashing became the focus. Purity before God was ignored.
You can easily fall into the same trap today. The Lord has commissioned the church to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Many churches are far more committed to maintaining and preserving their traditions than making disciples. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for substituting human priorities for God’s commandments.
What’s required to be spiritual in your church? Does it include such things as regular church attendance, liberal giving, working in the church, not drinking, smoking, or running around on your spouse? Are those the marks of your church’s disciples? Those things aren’t bad but Jesus said the mark of one of His disciples is love (John 13:34-35). Beware of “churchianity” clothed in do’s and don’ts.
Jesus explained in Mark 7:18-23 that external things don’t defile you. Instead, the thoughts and actions which defile you spring from your rebellious heart. The rebellion against God within the hearts of church members hinder a church’s ministry more than anything else.
Beginning in Mark 7:24 we read about Jesus’ only venture outside Israel. He retreated to Phoenicia to rest. His reputation preceded Him. He wasn’t anonymous even there.
A Gentile woman approached Him. She believed He could cast a demon from her daughter. Jesus appeared indifferent to her need. He compared the children and the small dogs of a household. He seemed to refuse her request. The woman humbly admitted she was a Gentile dog. But she still believed she could benefit from Jesus’ presence. She asked only for crumbs from the table. Even little dogs are entitled to that much.
Her wit, faith, and humility pleased Jesus. He graciously healed her daughter. What if He would have remained faithful to Jewish traditions? He would have refused her request and said something like, “You’re a Gentile. You’ve not part of the people of God.”
Do some traditions and attitudes in your church exclude outsiders from the family of God? Do you feel superior to the unchurched? Do you make outsiders feel comfortable who dare to sit in your place in your pew? Do you welcome newcomers who aren’t like you into the church? Like money, tradition is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Don’t let unevaluated tradition make you spiritually unhealthy. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
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