Monday, March 13, 2017

Beware of Tradition Idolatry

Matthew 23:1-4 - Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.

The Facebook discussion was started by an honest question from an innovative church planter serving in a more traditional part of the country. He asked for the pros and cons of having his primary worship service on a day and time other than Sunday morning. Some responders were very traditional in their thinking, suggesting Sunday morning was the only legitimate option. Others focused more on whatever option would be the most effective evangelistically. What was insightful was that many participants, on both sides of the issue, seemed to think that their personal preferences were the same as God’s Word.

One person said they attended a church for a while that had a Saturday night service, but it was not convenient for them. That person concluded that since Sunday morning was the most convenient time for her that made Sunday morning the only biblical option. Other people gave the very same reason, convenience, for why worship services should be held at times other than Sunday morning. After a lengthy comment thread, people on both sides of the question concluded that what was convenient for them was what God wanted everyone to do.

One individual felt empowered to speak for non-believers. However, in supporting the supposed views of non-believers, he only offered his own preference as a committed believer. It was a bit difficult following his logic, but he concluded that “If non-believers want to come to church, they need to get with the program and not expect believers to make it easy for them.” It sounded a lot like the attitude of the Pharisees in the New Testament who seemed determined to make faith difficult for as many people as possible.

Regardless of what we may feel about the issue of when we should worship, those of us who have grown up in traditional Christian settings need to acknowledge that we frequently substitute our own preferences for God’s Word. We tend to make selective use of a scripture or two in the effort to prove our viewpoint is right without looking at the whole canon of scripture. This is why many churches are stymied in their growth. Without realizing it, they have fallen into the deception of thinking their preferences are actually God’s Word.

If we expect revival to come, we are going to have to give up our personal preferences and stop assuming that our opinion is God’s opinion. While our preferences may feel right to us, they may not work for others. We must hold firmly to scripture, but be willing to give up our own personal preferences for the sake of the Kingdom. Sometimes it is hard to know the difference, but if we pray, and study the Word of God with an open mind, the Holy Spirit will give us discernment and we will be able to follow biblical principles even if it means we must abandon our personal preferences.

Lord, help us to diligently study Your Word and be willing to abandon our own personal preferences for Your glory. Amen.


This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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