Mark 7:1-13; 2 Samuel 17; Daniel 11:1-19
Churches have their own personalities. Different denominations all do things differently. Churches within denominations have their own little idiosyncrasies. The good side of this is when it allows people a measure of comfort in the way that they worship. There is a sense of the familiar in their church. The bad side of this is when the church decides to follow their own ideas instead of God’s commands.
The Pharisees were the religious elite of their day. They worked hard to make sure that they followed the Law. They discussed and wrote various interpretations of the Law in order to cover all possible circumstances. They wanted to make sure that they didn’t fall astray. The problem for them was that in all their interpretations, they sometimes went at cross-purposes to God’s overall plan and design. Jesus put it this way: “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” In redefining the Law to make it more “clear” they ended up creating situations where following their interpretations of God’s Law would cause a conflict with other areas of God’s Law. Rather than re-evaluate their interpretation, they decided that it would become more important than God’s Law. Jesus used one example: devoting all wealth and goods to God (they would of course have full use of that wealth) while refusing to care for parents who needed help because they couldn’t use that money devoted to God for such care. There were other examples – most of them dealing with inward purity while neglecting the people that God had set before them.
As Christians we are under Grace. That being said, there are still issues where we follow our own traditions or teachings instead of God’s direction. It is very easy to emphasize God’s Law and overlook the idea of Grace leading to judgmental attitudes that drive people away from God. At the same time there are people who emphasize God’s grace and forgiveness so much that God’s commands are secondary or ignored. People with sinful lifestyles are not encouraged to follow God’s design for life; they are told that they are ok in their sin. God loves each and every sinner. I have never known of a person that God doesn’t love. We cannot, however, let people wallow in their sin. We must encourage people to understand that if they are loved by God, and they are, they should respond in love and obedience and draw closer to Him. We must begin by looking at ourselves and seeing if we accept variations from God’s plan in our own lives and then seek God’s help to overcome those sins.