I stumbled across this little interaction between Jesus and a group of Pharisees during my devotion time while leading a team on a short term humanitarian relief project in Mexico. A group of Pharisees approach Jesus and try to trap Him with a line of questioning regarding His disciples not adhering to the tradition of the Jewish law. The tradition they were referring to is the man-made interpretation of God's law handed down to the people of Israel by Moses. The verse that has rattled around in my heart and in my head since then is this: "Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:13).
I think sometimes that tradition, or routine, gets in God's way. Think about this for a second. You're sitting in church going through the regular run down of a service...there's some music, the offering, perhaps a prayer and the sermon of course. Maybe there is some sort of video response or other 'activity' you're invited to participate in to make things seem more interactive than they really are, and then you might close the service with more singing. Sometimes I wonder if we need to punt what we have planned and follow where God is leading in a service, or any other part of life. When God beckons you to follow Him, He often doesn't give you a ton of pre-prep time...He simply calls out to you.
Think of the very first disciples who chose to follow Jesus. Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John were fisherman. They were doing what they normally do to get ready to fish on the day Jesus strolled by and invited them to journey with Him. And what did they do? They left their nets and they followed after Him.
Tradition = convenience. It's so much easier to know what's coming in life. It's easier to plan ahead and to define our future than it is to embrace God's leading and calling in your life. And what's even more insane to consider is that we are planning ahead when we cannot even see beyond today, or even right now. I think it is important to have a plan, but when the plan trumps Jesus, then the plan is the problem.
The Pharisees let their tradition trump Jesus. The sad part of this story is that it's one that happens far too often in our world and in our lives today. Tradition is only beneficial when it is steeped in the very presence of Christ. Without Jesus, we don't have anything anyway.
Does tradition get in the way of Jesus in your life?