Christian Culture

1. Message: What stood out to me today was In Mark 7 when the Pharisees were calling out the disciples because they didn’t do the ceremonial hand washing tradition before they ate. It was more than just hand washing to be clean. It was a ritual that had been so much of tradition that they did it as though it were sacred law. I guess you could say they did it religiously. Jesus called out the Pharisees in response for treating the traditions like they were more important than or equal to the commands of God. In verse 13 he tells them that they cancel the word of God in order to hand down their own traditions. If this sounds harsh for hand washing, he further clarifies that this was just one example.

2. Command: Live a godly life as a response to a changed heart. Not as a means to obtain a reputation of godliness.

3. Promise: There is no peace and joy than what comes from obeying God out of surrender and not out of tradition and obligation.

4. Warning: “Their worship is a farce for they teach manmade ideas as commands from God…they cancel the word of God in order to hand down their own traditions.”

5. Application: This passage was somewhat uncomfortable to go through at more than a surface level. Most of us understand the danger of being religious rather than changed. We see it so blatantly in other Christians who get caught up in legalistic rules like enforcing modest dress codes, eliminating secular music and “Christian cussing” (replacing curse words with similar sounding words so we don’t go to hell). The problem is sometimes our own religiousness shows up so differently that we don’t see it. As we plateau in our growth and the good and wonderful things that we once did out of a heart response of obedience and honor shifted into a to-do list of things we do (or don’t do) to thwart off guilt. I have walked plenty of years in auto-pilot and at the time I wouldn’t have seen myself as far from God but I see now where I did a lot of things that were culturally Christian, but not necessarily the bible. They weren’t bad things to do. They were actually really good things that became part of a pattern that made me feel like I was living a godly life at a time that I wasn’t even fully surrendered. This was not only dangerous to my own growth but it also became a problem in my ability to connect with other people. Since we tend to blur the lines between things we feel personally convicted about, and what scripture actually says, we tend to use it as a measure of judgment and expectation. Then we enforce our own rules and convictions on other people to follow suit. This is why it’s so important to be reading the word every day. We need to know what it says. When we read we reinforce God’s word and diminish our own ideas. This is good because we are wrong about a lot of things! On a more humorous note, I once had someone close to me mention that she had always been told that the bible tells us not to pray for patience. I kind of laughed as I thought about all of the Christians I had heard in my life saying “Don’t pray for patience!” Their logic was that since we know that we gain patience through trials and tribulations, it’s safer not to ask God for patience so we don’t have to suffer the hard stuff. This had been repeated so religiously by so many Christians that this person believed it was an actual command in the bible. As funny as that is, it’s a lot less funny to internalize the scripture telling us that when we elevate our own ideas and Christian culture rules we cancel out God’s word. Obviously no man can cancel God’s word but we can definitely cancel our ability to receive the benefits of it. Today I want to remind myself to examine the things I do and why. Especially if I feel any kind of attitude toward people who don’t do what I do. This seems like a red flag to me. I’m not going to eliminate the good things I do as a daily habit (like reading) but I want to examine my motives and make sure I’m obeying God and not just a man-made Christian culture idea.

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