Ceremony, Tradition, Unclean, That Which Defiles.
I really felt a connection to the set of verses assigned to me today. Those very strict laws about what foods to eat and what is considered ceremonially unclean, juxtaposed against Christ’s teaching of that which actually defiles, shows me how God truly planned his creation.
Thus you nullify the word of God by your traditions that you have handed down. And you do many things like that. Mark 7:13
Reading this verse in Mark immediately after reading Leviticus 11 – 12, I was initially inclined to think He was referring to those strict set of laws spelled out in Leviticus. And while His audience was those Pharisees who practiced those laws (and He was in fact refereeing to those exact laws), I was reminded (there’s that still small voice again) that God’s word is eternal and I began to ponder “what more could this mean?”
I realized I have begun my own set of traditions. For instance, the spiritual disciplines – prayer, worship, scripture reading (and even writing this blog) – sometimes feel like just an exercise instead of an act of worship. Sometimes I find I must really put my mind to it – to focus on God when engaged in the disciplines and not just check the square. Turning the disciplines into “traditions” or “ceremony” cheapens them. God wants me fully engaged with Him, not half way and not after I’m done worshiping something else. And He deserves it. His plan was that we would learn the act of worship by practicing obedience, but He never intended for us to worship the ceremonies themselves.
I am fully aware that there is a fine line between practicing the disciplines and turning them into traditions. In order for them to become a part of my life, I must practice them, often. But doing that can become a tradition. The key is, knowing where my heart and head is in all of this. Knowing inside that while I am setting aside the same time every day to pray, read, worship, write, etc., I am still focused on God and that these things glorify Him – not just satisfy my check list.
Great God – thank you for your guidance. I know your desire is to have me focus my life on you, for you gave me my life. Forgive me when I cheapen your Glory with my checklists and help me to keep You in my heart at all times! Amen