Gateway Community Church has, since October, been reading the New Testament together. This morning Pastor Ed Allen again brought a message from this week's reading, specifically Matthew 15:1-20
First we talked about traditions. Much of what we believe and how we worship is based on our traditions. This isn't a bad thing unless it's a bad thing.
Jesus encourages us to let our relationship with God provide the framework instead of our traditions.
1. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.
The Pharisees made a big deal out of something that's not a big deal -- and that's a big deal.
They'd assess their behavior and the behavior of others on the basis of their traditions and evaluate their relationship with God.
This was a big deal to the Pharisees.
Jesus said, "Leave them alone!" Dismiss it! Don't have anything to do with it!
They took a small thing -- how people washed their hands -- and made it a big thing.
For them, the collected teachings of the rabbis formed the framework for how someone's connection to God was evaluated.
Sometimes their traditions got in the way of following God. "They worship me in vain."
2. Keep Your Spirituality Right Side Out.
According to Jesus, a real relationship with God is always inside out.
Jesus does not give a list of regulations.
We might think we're past this, but think about the unwritten rules for being a good parent in suburban America. It's based on Performance and Success.
Our words and actions come out of our heart -- our true inner selves.
True spirituality emanates from a good and true heart.
Where does a good and true heart come from?
John 3 -- God needs to completely re-orient the inside of your life, like being completely born again.
It's not about more effort, but more surrender.
We need to be made new inside.
As Christians, don't let the world around us drive us to the exterior of our lives.
Don't evaluate others based on exteriors, either.