Blog - Grasping Vocation

Religious Ruts in Your Work World

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Can you think of anything more powerful than the Word of God? Nine times Genesis 1 explains creation with the words “God said.” Psalm 33:9 sums it all up: “…he spoke, and it came to be.” Jesus, the God-Man, drove evil spirits out of people “with a word.” And he even now is “sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). What could possibly stand in the way of such power?

Jesus tells us in Matt. 15:6: man-made religious tradition. In answering a delegation of Pharisees and Bible experts who had criticized his disciples for breaking traditional teaching, Jesus said, “…you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” Nullify translates a word that means to make ineffective. It means to annul (as in annulling a marriage). It means to make void (as in voiding a check). In other words, it cancels the benefits of whatever was nullified.

Tradition! In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye loved it. But Jesus warns us our religious traditions wield an awesome power to block us from the blessing of God's Word. To expose and oppose such traditions, Jesus repeatedly uses two phrases. “You have heard that it was said” sums up the traditional teaching. “But I tell you” corrects the tradition with the truth. For example, in Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus reminds them, “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies….”

Man-made religious traditions didn't die out with the Pharisees. They're alive and well today. And many of them can still nullify the Word of God for Christ-followers in the world of work. In the next few weeks, I hope to expose and oppose a number of these traditions that thwart the effectiveness of believers in their workplaces.

Following Jesus' model, I'll use the words, “You have heard…” to introduce the tradition, followed by the words, “But Jesus says…” to counter with the biblical corrective. Here's a preview of the next blog topic. “You have heard that everyday non-religious work is secular. But Jesus says God's world is not split into sacred and secular zones.”

In the meantime, let me hear from you. What religious tradition affecting the workplace would you place after the words, “You have heard…”? And how would you finish the sentence that begins, “But Jesus says…”?

(Go to Part 2)

Comments (3)

James W. Hardie (4/1/2010 5:39:24 PM)
The world says you can't run a business and follow Christ's teaching. You will go broke.

But God's Word tells us that the Apostle Paul worked as a tentmaker and carried out an amazing ministry at the same time. He was in the "tentmaking" business. Acts:20:33-35 "I have coveted no man's silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities and those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak." See also I Corinthians 9:18 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 and Acts 20:33-35. Paul was in business to be an example to all Christians in business, that they can be in business and be true to God's Word and be successful plus have ministry, and what a ministry it was."
Joe Navarra (4/5/2010 11:10:26 AM)
For some religions to exist they do what they can to keep their belief in place, but it is unfortunate that people are so involved with tradition and can't spiritually grow.

I know some people that do not attend church and they are part of a denomination that is well known, but these people would just indoctrinate their children to the religion without really knowing what it means to have a relationship with Christ. It's all about following a tradition and having a title. There are people that do attend these churches and are very religious, but I don't think that they can spiritually grow since the church chokes people with strict traditions. These people are kept in a shell by believing that you won't be saved if you are not of that denomination and the rest of the churches are not real.

Marcus Goodyear (6/16/2010 6:56:23 AM)
Larry, I am loving this site. Great content here. I agree with Joe that tradition can be a dangerous thing when it supercedes a relationship with Jesus and the community of believers.

On the other hand, I confess that I find tradition to be comforting as I get older. Surely there's some middle ground where we can change slowly, honoring the young generations who want to make their mark and the older generations who have learned to reach out to God in particular ways.

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