If you haven’t heard, I’m growing a person inside of me.
(That was totally a joke, by the way–I realize talk about this ALL the time.)
With each day she grows stronger and more ready to take on this world on her own, Austin and I have to ask ourselves how we will parent. What will be our method for punishment? How will we teach her to exist as a little girl with brown skin in this very racially charged country? What kind of food should she eat?
The questions range from very serious to it’s-silly-that-we-are-even-talking-about-this. But they all come back to the same underlying theme.
Who will we raise her to be?
You see, both of us had pretty easy childhoods. We grew up middle-class families. We believed in Jesus from a young age. We were actively engaged in extra-curricular activities. And at least one of us kept good grades (I’ll let you decide who you think that was. 😉
So as we raise her, as we teach her how to walk this earth spiritually and physically, it will be easy to just try to make her into a mini-version of ourselves–or at least who we wanted to be. It will be tempting to think God will need to work in her life just like He did in ours. It will be easy to lay our traditions onto her. Maybe those things are good from a bird’s eye view. The danger becomes when we elevate little versions of ourselves over a little version of Christ.
And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
(Mark 7:5–9 ESV)
When the Pharisees got wind of who Jesus claimed to be, what He was doing, and the truths He taught, they were threatened. The traditions to which they held fast–not the commands of the law, but the traditions of men–were being exposed for what they were.
It’s easy to look at the Pharisees as the “bad guys” of the Gospels. After all, they were the ones who helped plot to put Jesus on a cross. They kept undermining His authority. But when I consider what my heart might have done if I were in the same situation, I cannot say that my flesh would have responded much differently. They were holding to what they knew. They were reading scripture the way they wanted to read it. They were not allowing the Word of God to speak for itself.
And so often I find myself doing the same thing. I interpret Scripture the way I want. I pretend that some of the teachings of men are equivalent with commands of God. I place the way I worship in my culture onto others.
And when we do all of this, then enter into discipleship, we come dangerously close to disciplng little versions of us, people who live lives and think like we do, rather than teaching people to follow only after Christ.
When Austin and I got engaged, we soon announced that we would be getting married before I finished my college degree (oh, the horror). In one conversation, we were told that we were being disobedient to God for doing so. In another conversation, we were told our marriage would be less blessed if we made such an irresponsible decision. We were then told that the reason this was, was because these individuals had waited until after college themselves, and it worked out well.
Austin and I knew what God was calling us to do. We knew we were being asked to do something that didn’t make sense to people that we might trust God even more.
And since those conversations, our eyes and hearts have been extra sensitive to making the same mistake as we disciple. Do we want people to look like us? Or do we want people to look like Jesus?
Do we cling tightly to “our way”, or do we teach believers to be sensitive to the call of God?
Do we look first to the Word for direction or do we look to the approval of man?
He is in the process of molding His children to look like the Son. Let us not stand in the way of His transformation that we might transform people on our own.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thank you guys so much for coming back each day and celebrating Advent with us through the study of Jesus’ life. The book of Mark is so jam-packed with truths from our God, so I hope you are following right along with us in it!
Check out the video below to hear us chat about how this passage moved our hearts toward Him.