The Commands of God, or the Traditions of Men?

In the opening verses of the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 7, the religious leaders are scolding Jesus for allowing his disciples to eat lunch without washing their hands. Now any parent has said hundreds of times to their children, "Wash your hands before you eat anything." The point of this encounter is not that the religious leaders are concerned about these young men staying healthy. They are pointing out that these followers of Jesus are not holding to the traditions of the elders for ceremonial cleansing after being out among the non-religious or the "unclean people".

Jesus' response is to quote Isaiah 29:13 — "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." He then goes on to say, "You leave the commandments of God and hold on to the traditions of men."

The entire passage (Mark 7:1-23) is interesting, and I would encourage you to read it and think through it . . . However, one point burned through to me very strongly . . . .

Many of us who claim to speak for God, or who claim to know what God is most concerned about, are really proclaiming the traditions of men! Especially in the USA, the voices that are supposed to represent the church or the family of Jesus are often just representing their own flawed and narrow views or the current cultural view on a specific topic.

I do not want to be a person who honors God with my lips, but has no deep heart connection with the true and living God. I want to hate what God hates and love what God loves. I want to be outraged and activated by what breaks the heart of God. I want my burning passion to be for what God longs to see. I don't want to leave the commandments of God and hold to the traditions of men.

So what is God concerned about?

I have written and rewritten the next few lines multiple times . . . this thought takes me down many roads and most of them end up with me giving opinions that may be faithful to the commands of God or may simply be the traditions of men . . . I can give you clear, specific teaching on many topics that are hot issues to me. However, here is what I think Jesus wants to say to me and to you, "Stop following the teaching and the traditions of men and search the Scriptures to find what is on My heart for you to know and do."

Seek the counsel of the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus said that when He left He would send His Spirit who would guide us and teach us the deep things of God. Seek Him and obey Him.

Here is my encouragement for us . . . Do not look for the error in anyone else's actions and thoughts. Don't panic about the debt ceiling or terrorism or too much heat. Just stop it! Don't criticize or blame others. Don't listen to talk radio and television that is all about how messed up those OTHERS are. Don't focus on the speck in someone else's eye. Let's focus on our own speck or log. Let's break the code of our culture. Let's try for a day and then a week, etc. to be positive and encouraging. Let's look for what is good and right and pure and focus our hearts and words on those things.

Seek the living God. Respond to the living God. Love and be loved by the living God. Follow Him. Follow Him and watch the world around you change.

May the joy of His love engulf us.