By: Pastor Jason Swedeen
2007 is going to prove to be a year where the Lord is going to raise up those who are truly His. This is going to cause a clear distinction between those who truly know Jesus in word and deed and those who just say with their mouth that they know Him. So many people in numerous religions say they worship Jesus, but their life doesn't prove it. So many people think that their way is right and purposely make life miserable for those who don't follow the same. I see too many people let their doctrines or beliefs get in the way of truly being the light of Jesus.
Jesus had much to say, while He walked on this earth, about those Pharisees who were set in their doctrines. Luke 12:1 says, "...Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Jesus was talking about their worship of doctrines, which were from men. They were so blinded and prideful about their own traditions, they not only missed the voice of the Lord, but they mocked Him.
Do you have pride in your traditions? Are you stuck in your traditions and won't budge? If so, you may be stuck on your way to hell. I'm not saying you need to be wishy-washy and receive what everyone tells you. I believe in having a conviction and standing firm on it. But there is a place where a person can be too prideful to even let God change their lives or direction in life.
Remember Jonah? God asked him to go to Nineveh. He even knew that God wanted to save the people of Nineveh, but Jonah thought he knew better than God. So he rebelled.
I believe a majority of people, including you, don't want to rebel against God, but we can get so stuck in our ways and traditions, believing they are His, and we end up rebelling against the One we say we love.
What are your religious traditions? Are they causing you to draw closer in your relationship with Jesus, or are they just helping to make you look good. The real question: Are you worshiping Jesus, or, are you worshiping your religious doctrines? Do you answer people according to your traditions, or according to the life of Jesus Christ? The Pharisees, though with good intentions, worshiped their traditions.
I am not writing to condemn any of your traditions. Many traditions have good intentions and could be useful, but the strong tendency of humanity is to lean and trust in those traditions and not in Jesus. I just want Jesus to be worshiped and magnified, not the traditions of men, which so often cause strife and contention between people who ought to love one another. It's not because I say so, but because Jesus commands that we are to love one another.
Some of you have been taught from an early age the traditions which you honor. That has been good as God wants us to pass on our faith and legacy. But faith is not living what someone else told you. It is living what you know deep in your heart because you have sought the Lord Jesus, and by His Spirit you have a witness to what you believe.
If you honor your traditions more than the Lord, then your honor is clearly not with the Lord. The fact is: When God says move...move. Don't be stuck in your own traditions to where you will end up being disobedient to the Lord Jesus. How are you going to know if He says move? You have to hear it, which takes you personally getting before the Lord. It's not hearing it from others, though God may use others to confirm the word that He wants to tell you personally. He is not going to tell you to do something that will contradict His word or who He is.
Christ's love says to find that which unites us, not what separates us. God is not bound by our traditions. He is bound by His word, which declares His promises, character, etc.
I ask you, if you say you love God, to consider your ways. What, or who, are you worshiping? How do you treat others who might have a different opinion than you or have different ways of doing things. Do you look to see how they are worshiping God in their ways, or do you judge them because they don't do it your way?
In all things, look to the Word of God. Be a person of humility, guarding your heart, but open to change, open to the fact that you may just not know or have it all right. Don't hold on to your traditions, lest God should tell you to move and you be found disobedient and out of His will. Hold on to Jesus, the Savior of your souls. Where will you be found in 2007? With Jesus or against Him?