Many of us follow many traditions passed on by others. Often we don’t even know why. A great example of this is a story I once heard:
A daughter was watching her mom prepare the turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. The daughter noticed that her mom had cut one of the turkey’s legs off before placing it in the oven…when the daughter examined the turkey leg, it seemingly looked normal. This was something that her mom did every year, and always puzzled the daughter…so this time the daughter asked her mom, “why do you always cut off the turkey leg? is there something wrong with it?” The mom responded, “Actually, I’m not sure…it was something that my mother always did, and I guess it just stuck with me. Why don’t you ask grandma later tonight”. So that is what the daughter did, when her grandma arrived later that evening she asked her, “grandma, why do you cut off the turkey leg before placing it in the oven?”, but she got the exact same answer, the grandma did not know why and told her she should ask her great grandma once she got here. So when her great grandmother arrived she asked her, “great grandma? why do you cut the turkey leg off of the turkey before placing it in the oven? Both mom and grandma do it too, but they don’t know why…”, the great grandmother chuckled and said, “honey, I cut it off because our oven was too small to fit the entire turkey inside”.
Some traditions we follow can be harmless, such as the turkey leg tradition, but others can be a bit more dangerous to us, and those around us, if we follow them blindly. Someone who experienced this first hand was a man name Saul. He was a very successful man in his aspirations. He was also a very “righteous” and “godly” man…or at least, according to what he was taught. You see, Saul was a Pharisee. According to what he was taught, Jesus was nothing more than a blasphemer. And Saul figured that it was God’s will to hunt down and jail, or kill, anyone who followed Jesus, since he was doing right according to his “traditions”. Saul couldn’t have been more wrong. So Jesus confronted Saul and set him straight while he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). And afterwards, Jesus had Saul’s name changed to Paul. Paul later realized how big a mistake he had made…this mistake of following man, rather than seeking God, had cost many people their lives. So no one knows better then Paul the seriousness there is in truly seeking a personal relationship with God, and not just accepting what others have told you about Him. Myself, your parents, your friends, or, yes, even your pastor could give you information that is not of God. That is why Paul said the following:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”. -Colossians 2:8
So many of us are guilty of following what we are taught by man, and the world. What we need is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to be able to bring what we learn (or have learned) before Him and have Him straighten out our view. There is no better way of building a personal relationship with Jesus then reading the Bible yourself, not just letting others, like your pastor, feed it to you, and praying to Him. Just like any relationship, to build ours with Jesus, we need to give Him time. So I strongly encourge you to get in a habit of reading the bible and praying daily…just set aside some time for it everyday. And start praying for God to reveal to you if you need to be set straight by Him in any way. Begin to check what you are taught by others with what Jesus Himself is teaching you. Be careful to follow God’s voice, not traditions. Be willing to be met on the Road to Damsacus.
May God bless you, and in turn, may you continue to learn how to bless Him even more