Thursday, March 22, 2012

Word of Mouth?

Colossians 2:8

"Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ."

To me, this almost seems like the theme verse for Colossians 2.  I say that because throughout chapter 2, Paul is reminding the church in Colosse of the authority of Christ.  We are reminded that Jesus has been given authority over all things - including human and spiritual beings.  Because Christ has all authority, He is the only One who we need to follow.  We do not need to worry about the rules and burdens that humans can throw on each other, we only need to live a life dedicated to Christ.

"High-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking..."  That is an interesting phrase that caught my attention.  It is worded a little different in the NIV, "...which depends on human tradition.  We humans do like our traditions, don't we?  Each church has its own traditions that isn't necessarily done because the Bible has said we have to do it that way, it is because it is what we are comfortable with them (for example, some churches display different colors to signify the different seasons of the church calendar).  Paul wasn't writing against these kind of traditions, he was writing about something much deeper that can cause a greater damage.  The word translated as tradition is the Greek word paradosis.  This word can mean instruction that is given over through word of mouth.  Apparently, there was a belief among Jewish leaders during the time of the New Testament that there were oral traditions spoken by Moses that had been passed down through the years and they were believed to be of equal importance to the written law.

These traditions were problematic because they were often the very things that would burden the people.  Please read what Jesus had to say about such traditions in Mark 7:1-13.  We need to be very careful about the cultural traditions that we cling to.  We need to be able to recognize what is of God (does it line up with the Bible?) and what is merely a man-made instruction.  If it conflicts with God's instruction that we find in the Bible or it becomes so important that we side-step what God has said we need to do, then we are making our cultural instruction more important than Christ.  He is the only one with the authority to tell us what we should be doing; man made rules do not have authority over us.  We really can follow Christ and be in freedom!

Are you following Christ or tradition?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.


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