commandments of men

red-letter I recently shared some of my thoughts about Faith Unraveled here.  In this book, Rachel Held Evans shares an experience that I, as well as many of my friends and family, have experienced and are experiencing.  She explains how at some point in her life, she had to strip away what she had learned about God and Christianity from the world and from her community, and focus instead on the teachings of the Bible,  specifically the teachings of Jesus.

Evans says that when we teach our own interpretations of the Bible as infallible truth, “…We inadvertently imply that embracing the Bible as truth requires embracing the one interpretation of it.  This results in false fundamentals, which result in an inability to change, which results in a failure to adapt and evolve.” (page 193).

As I was reading in Matthew 15 the other day, I came across a story where the Pharisees ask Jesus why His disciples fail to obey the law by not washing their hands before the eat bread.  As He so often did, Jesus responded with a question…

“‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?…
Hypocrites!  Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me,
And in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.””

It is so easy to unintentionally serve men, rather than God, without realizing it if we simply follow what we have been taught, rather than seek out the truth for ourselves.  Unfortunately, the consequences are not only that we “worship in vain” and suffer ourselves, but that we misrepresent Jesus and His beautiful gospel to others.  I have been constantly reminded in the last few months to be very careful to distinguish between the commandments of men and the commandments of God.  I pray for the grace and wisdom to do so for the rest of my life.