Daily Reflection – 2/12/19
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. [For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).] So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”( Mark 7:1-13)
I believe that every faith has a problem with the tradition of “going to church.” Many people, regardless of how the worship is conducted, are just “going” to church. Maybe they go to be seen, maybe they go because their friends are there and it’s an important social interaction or maybe church itself has become more of a social event rather than a time to worship God with like-minded people. Next time you enter Church, notice whether it is a quiet place of reverence or a meeting hall for chatter.
But the most seductive and devastating tradition that trumps even this is the non-church tradition. “I can worship God wherever I want. No one time or place is holier than any other. As long as I say I have Jesus in my heart, I don’t have to go to church – and you can’t make me feel guilty about it. If I do go, I reserve the right to leave whenever I want to. I’m under no obligation to give a certain amount of my income to God. We’re all priests, so no one at any church can tell me what to do.”
What we are seeing is a new tradition of Christians who see no need for the local church, its ordained ministers, its historical connection with the Church for 2000 years, or its accountability. Make no mistake, though: it’s a tradition of humanity all on its own, and one Jesus would have been the first to denounce.
Gathering together to worship God communally strengthens our beliefs. Gathering together to worship God reinforces our resolve to live a better life and to walk a better path. Gathering together to worship God publicly calls out the strength of our beliefs and our willingness to stand apart from the crowd. It is in our public worship that we face our own moment of truth. Is the Church here for me and my ego or am I here to profess my willingness to live a life where I am His servant?
Prayer of The Day
Forgive me, Lord, if I have been a Pharisee. Forgive me, if I have presumed to take the speck out of my brother’s eye before taking out the log from my own. Help me to see You again and to hear Your Word. Remove from my life any obstacle that I have that prevents my knowing You better and prohibits me from publicly proclaiming my faith in you.