Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
Jesus spoke these words to the religious establishment of his times. The Pharisees asked him “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” I don’t think they expected Jesus to call them hypocrites! I wonder what Jesus would say today to the current religious establishments? I kind of thing it would be in the same vain.
Not only have we now split into 39,000 different versions of Christianity but we probably also have that many or more different “human rules” for being Christians. Being that is the case I’m pretty sure that Jesus would once again say You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
When asked to sum up what it means to be a follower of Jesus he gave us two simple commands. He knew that we get distracted easily and run off on tangents so he kept it simple. He said it all boils down to two simple things. Love God and love each other. How did we screw up such a simple command.? How did we end up with so many different versions of his church?
I would also include all the creeds and doctrines generated after Jesus’ death and resurrection as being human rules and traditions. The church leaders throughout history just can’t seem to see how simple he meant the church to be. They insisted that we also believe hundreds of other things. Just look at the creeds and such they invented. The Nicene Creed is a perfect example. While I am attuned to many of the statements in that document I know it is made up of “beliefs” that have little to do with actually being a follower of Jesus is about.
When creeds and such are used as a way to separate the church into different factions, as they often are, they are more destructive than they are helpful. Let’s just concentrate on what Jesus told us to do and love him and each other. When we honor Jesus with only our words (lips) but not in our hearts (action) then we are worshiping in vain.
I’m not saying that human traditions and belief have no value to us. They help us understand the history of the church and what some of the previous followers thought about God and that is very helpful. But when those traditions and beliefs get in the way of the two loves we must understand that they are not from God but are someone’s meager attempts to describe an indescribable being.