Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Iconoclast, part 2

The Word for today:
Mark 7:1-13

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘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.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8)


When we compile a list of what Jesus did and who he was, we read wonderful titles like Deliverer, King, Redeemer, Prophet, Savior…

But you never see “Iconoclast” on that list. And I wonder why, because it’s one of my favorite things about him. Whenever a tradition of man obscured the word and character of God, Jesus didn’t just break it, he smashed it to smithereens. On one occasion, when he'd healed a man on the Sabbath and was criticized for breaking the Pharisees’ hallowed Sabbath traditions, he immediately withdrew to the streets, where great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all!  (Matthew 12:1-15)

Most of our church tradions were God-honoring at one time. They brought people into a closer relationship with God. But over time, the tradition begins to honor itself.

Many of our traditions and creeds eventually supplant the Word of God:
And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observeyour own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” (Mar 7:9-13)

In Jesus' day and in ours, traditions eventually depart from the scriptures they were founded upon. Pretty soon we have a lot of people just going through the motions, until going through the motions is what church is all about.

My hope is that we take a long look at the rituals and traditions in our own lives and churches.  What is their purpose? Are they still serving that purpose? If not, let’s honor the tradition of iconoclasm, as practiced by the great iconoclast Himself.


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