Monday, November 22, 2010

Truth or Tradition?

I read the following paragraph in the book I can't seem to get away from "The Soul of C.S. Lewis"....not in his words, but the authors of the book (Martindale, Root, and Washington):

"We are often too quick to dismiss those whose ideas are different from our own.  Perhaps we lack the life skills necessary to listen patiently to the ideas of others.  Perhaps we have not yet learned to treat all who are made in the image of God with the dignity that is due them....An inability to hear and engage well with dissenting voices will guarantee that we stay stuck in our prejudices.....It is in honest debate, rather than name calling, that we measure the strength of our beliefs." (pg. 10).

This one lone paragraph could preach many different messages.  But tonight, one.

Are we living, serving, worshiping, following, preaching....TRUTH or TRADITION?

Do we know why we believe what we believe?

How many of the things we do are done because of what we have been taught by man or passed down by our grandparents? 

Do we do what we do just because that's the way we've always done it?

A couple of definitions of tradition from

  • the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice
  • a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting
Have we inherited the way we have church?  Five or so worship songs, offering, sit down and listen to a sermon for 30 minutes, altar call, dismissal.

Why does the "modern church" have "church" the way it does?  

Remember, this is a blog....I'm thinking out loud.  

This post is in no way to encourage you to seek out other religions or listen to anything that is contrary to the Word of God.  I believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, true in it's entirety. 

I'm challenging you (and myself) to ask why do I do the things I do and the way I do them?  If another Christian says something that challenges me or the way I think, do I immediately close them off, or can I listen to what they have to say?  

Is my perception of God based on what I have learned of Him through seeking His face, searching His Word, spending time in prayer and worship, lingering in His presence?  Or is it based on what others have told me or shown me?

If another Christian receives revelation that we have not, how do we know if it's true?  Do we take their word for it or do we seek God for our own?  Does it line up with the Word?  Can it be backed by scripture?

Is it right or wrong because someone told me it was, or because it's truth I found in the Word?

A.W. Tozer said it like this: "Among the gifts of the Spirit scarcely one is of greater practical usefulness than the gift of discernment. This gift should be highly valued and frankly sought as being almost indispensable in these critical times. This gift will enable us to distinguish the chaff from the wheat and to divide the manifestations of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit."

The Bible asks:

 Luke 12:57 (NIV) "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?"

and warns us....
Hosea 4:6 (NIV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge

and instructs us...

Proverbs 4:1 HEAR, MY sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].

We should pray....Psalm 119:66   Teach me good judgment, wise and right discernment, and knowledge, for I have believed (trusted, relied on, and clung to) Your commandments

We have to be wise to know when something false presents itself to us, as the Word tells us there are false teachers and false prophets among us (2 Peter 2:1).  But we should also be sensitive not to resist change or transition or "a different way of doing things" if God is leading.

God is such a big God that there is no way we could ever know everything about Him.  And we are never right 100% of the time.  (Again....I'm not talking about our core beliefs or doctrine, the central message of the Bible...the gospel of Jesus Christ which never changes).

God is bigger and better than our biggest and best thoughts about Him!

Again from "The Soul of C.S. Lewis":  After hearing a sermon or reading a book or after deep conversations with friends, we may understand something about God we did not understand before.  Pieces of the puzzle come together and our vision of God may expand significantly."

"Images we have of God, if held onto too tightly compete against our having a growing, expanding understanding of God.....Welcome those experiences in life that would help you see things as they are rather than how you would have them be......If our estimation of Him does not grow, it will not be long before we will be worshiping a God of our own making and severing fellowship with all who fail to see things our way. Furthermore, we will paint "Thus Saith the Lord" across all our own opinions as we drift toward idolatry."

We should be ever increasing in our knowledge of Him and His ways, not holding on to one scripture and building a religious wall around it alone.  Don't be afraid to experience God in a new way.  Don't be afraid if He reveals Himself in a way that is different from yesterday.  Maybe yesterday you knew Him as Jehovah Rohi, the Lord your Shepherd,  but today He wants to reveal Himself to you as Jehovah Ropheka, The Lord your Healer....challenging your traditions that He no longer heals.

Don't be alarmed if you begin to have dreams and visions when you thought God no longer spoke that way. 

If you suddenly begin to speak in other tongues or have a word of knowledge or prophecy for someone, don't dismiss it because a denomination told you it was wrong.  What does God's Word say?

If you feel God leading you to worship in a new way, ask for the courage to step out in obedience.

Seek Him and you will find Him  (Prov. 8:17).

Call to Him and He will show you great and unsearchable things (Jer. 33:3).

There is so much to know about God.  We will never, ever, know it all until we are perfect and in His presence for eternity.  But we can seek Him while we are here, and know that He will be found.  We can draw near to Him and know that He will draw near to us.

2 friends had this to say:

Siobhan said...

I cant agree more and i often go back to this tradition topic in my thoughts.
I've always thought and I've learnt our roles and rules in life should be flexible. Our own life script should be flexible so we dont get stuck.
My Gran is very against tattoos so whenever i get a new 1, i get a lecture which sounds like this:

For me, i turn EVERYTHING to God. I dont dismiss you coz you're satanic or coz like my Gran is old school or coz you dont think I'm Christian coz my mom remarried and is now in a multiracial marriage now, i take it to God and say ok what should i learn or hear here God.
We believe SO MANY DIFFERENT things now and sometimes i read things i dont approve of but i accept that that's how the other person feels. I wont force change on you if you grew up believing x and y and i didnt.
you may not like/approve/agree with it, but ACCEPT the other 1

Thea Nelson said...

Wow. How much of what we do is because it's what we've always done? I'm challenged by this! Thanks for speaking truth!