Blog - Grasping Vocation
Religious Ruts in Your Work WorldWednesday, 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…”?