Thursday, July 26, 2012

Religion and Tradition

 This morning as I was reading  Matthew 15 to my wife, Patti, it struck me that Catholics and Protestant weren't the only ones best by religious traditions. Jesus confronted the  scribes and Pharisees about their traditions that were based on man's selfish desires  and not what God's original intent was. The traditions perverted God's original words.

It really isn't any different now, is it?  Catholics and Protestants are equally at fault with both sides claiming they follow Biblical authority for doing and believing what they do.  Both sides can miss the intent of the scripture -- and sometimes the literalness of the scripture-- to explain away or make more palatable something Jesus taught or Paul or Peter explained.

My story as a cradle Catholic in my book "The Shift" deals with many traditions I was taught and believed. It wasn't until college when I was challenged to compare my traditions against that of what the Bible taught that I began to change my thinking.  And it was hard!  Why? I had been conditioned for nearly 20 years to accept and believe what my religious teachers had said. There was only one way to believe and contradicting that belief was not acceptable. I believed traditions that were not Biblically-based but as sacred tradition, carried the same weight as sacred scripture. The Lord had to peel back layers of conditioning one-by-one. I came to rely upon scripture alone as the base for my beliefs. Paul commended the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 for their reliance on sacred scripture to determine and filter what religious leaders were teaching.

This morning's reading just confirmed that we can all be easily led astray to believe things that may sound or appear right and holy  but are in fact not based on the written Word of God (the Bible).  I'm glad we have this living Word from God and the Holy Spirit and other Christian brothers and sisters to help us stay on course.  We can have disagreements on certain issues, but when we use the Word and believe what God literally said, we will stay on the right track.

Have you examined the traditions and beliefs that you hold?  Do you think yourself superior to other "Christians" who may not as "enlightened" as you because of what you believe?  I was that way for a long time until God straightened me out by His written Word. I'm so glad He did and is continuing to do so.

So what is He doing for you regarding your traditions and closely held beliefs? Do you trust Him enough to examine them in light of the written Word of God?  Try it. You might get conflicted.... and it's not a bad thing. It's what you do with that conflict resolution that will help determine whether you stay stagnant or grow.

God bless.