Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monkey Business

I woke up this morning at about 4:30 to a pack of howler monkeys outside my bedroom window. As their name implies, they were doing their best to make sure I was awake. I got up started the coffee and sat down to do a little bible reading, following the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan (my favorite) and came up on a passage of scripture that is important to me. It’s about our traditions. Read the full text of Matt. 15:1-9 to get more info but here are the details.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law go to Jesus and ask “Why do your disciples break our fathers traditions and not wash their hands before they eat?” Jesus gives them a scenario to show their own hypocrisy and braking of commands as well and then implicates them in scripture by quoting Isaiah 29:13 , saying

“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

Questions: Are we teaching rules taught by men? Is our worship coming from the heart or from our lips?

POINT: We can not be “Relevant Traditionalists” but must be “Relevant Missionalist” (I think I made up some words). In ministry, we can not let “what worked in the past” or “what we’ve been doing for generations” keep us from “what needs to be done” to reach the people that need a relationship with God the most now. Whether it’s Hymns, Robed Pastors, Sermon length, etc, these cannot get in the way of people coming to the Lord for help. Being a relevant missionalist is putting cultural relevance before personal traditions as priority.

Now before you think I am a Traditions Hater, (because I am not, they just need to be put in their right place on the list of priorities) take a look at the beginning of the text again. In verse 2, the Pharisees are not accusing Jesus, just his disciples. I think Jesus followed the tradition of ceremonially washing hands. Why? Because Jesus didn’t want to cause people to stumble at that point. Their could be other reasons as well. Sometimes we have to do things, not because we believe them but because others believe them. (See also Rom. 14:20, 1 Cor. 10:32)

No comments: