Pancake Breakfasts and Jesus
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I have always been an early riser. I love walking on the beach and watching the sky change colors as the sun rises over the horizon. The pinks and purples are slowly replaced by the yellows and oranges, and then blue. It’s one of my favorite ways to start the day. When the church I attended began having sunrise services on Easter Sunday, I was all for it. I couldn’t imagine a better way to start the day. Right after service, I would hurry into the fellowship hall and help the youth make pancakes for the congregation to enjoy. It was a lot of fun, and it was a tradition I loved to participate in.
When the Lord led me to another church, though, I found myself really missing the traditions I had become accustomed to. The new church didn’t have sunrise services, and they didn’t have pancake breakfasts, but I knew without a doubt that He had led me there and that it was where I was meant to be.
Sometimes traditions can shape our perspective and understanding of what is happening around us. When we encounter something that is contrary to what we have experienced, followed or believed, it has the potential to shake us. Sunrise services are not wrong. Delicious pancake breakfasts are not wrong. And attending a 9 a.m. service on Easter Sunday is not wrong. Following a tradition does not determine whether it honors God.
Jesus caused a lot of shaking in the culture and traditions of the early church, especially among the religious elite. Traditions were so deeply rooted in this culture that the lines between man-made traditions and God-given commands were often blurred. Sometimes what was believed to be the Word of God was merely a man-made interpretation of His Word.
On a regular basis, Jesus spent time with people the Pharisees believed to be unsavory and unclean. When they witnessed Jesus eating with His disciples without washing their hands according to the Jewish traditions of that time, they were appalled—because they believed that the action of ceremonial handwashing was what made them “clean.”
“So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”
Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition. Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition” (Mark 7:5-9 NLT).
The Pharisees were more concerned with whether their man-made traditions were followed than whether their hearts were turned toward God.
He, however, is far more concerned with the condition of our heart than He is with our desire to uphold any tradition. When we attend church, He wants it to be because we are seeking Him, and not because attending church is a habit, something we’ve always done. When we worship, He wants us to come just as we are to worship Him, even when it’s ugly and even when it’s difficult—not just because we want others to think we have it all together. God desires for our hearts to be turned toward Him in all things, including the traditions we choose to follow.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT).
Lord, help us to break free from traditions that do not honor You—and help us to keep our eyes and our hearts turned toward You in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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