#tbt (Throwback Thursday) – taking a look back at the history of the church, and seeing what we can learn from them.
One of the mega sore spots of the early church in the first hundred years or so, one of the huge areas of controversy, debate, discussion and disagreement, was the connection and relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Across the growing Christian world, people would debate between themselves how much Judaistic laws the new Christian converts should adhere to. Stuff like circumcision, and the diets of the believers were called into question. Some argued that as Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for, they should continue to circumcise their boys, and they should still refrain from eating the 'unclean' foods the Jews would not eat.
Very early on this wound up the Apostle Paul no end. The more your read Paul's letters in the New Testament the more you see how much of a straight talking, no nonsense kinda guy he was. And it seemed this issue really did his head in. He strongly felt that as Jesus stated that he had come to 'fulfill the law', that we no longer had to be bound by the laws the Jews led their lives by because of us now living in the times of the New Covenant.
Anyway, we can read in Galatians all about this, and Paul was so annoyed by it he really laid into those still following Jewish laws in his letter to the Phillippians when he said “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!” (Phil 3:2). When you see the original words he used in this sentence (“Kunas, KaKous, ergatas, Katatomen”), Nick Page makes a great comment that 'It is as though Paul spits the words out'.
Paul was clearly a guy who saw the power of grace, and the power of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. That we are no longer bound to laws, traditions and the limitations they bring. But instead we are in a time of grace, where we can break free from not just Jewish laws and traditions, but more modern traditions and laws that we put on ourselves. We don't necessarily cirumcise ourselves for God, or amend our diets and refuse foods as unholy, but we can place other man-made laws in ours lives under the guise of 'holiness', when in fact they are meaningless and often limiting to us.
Sometimes the idea of grace confuses us. We look for laws in our lives, we look for boundaries and traditions to hang our faith onto. Traditions aren't all bad, but when they dictate how we relate to God. Or how our church looks and runs, we will come across problems there. We starts saying that we and others have to 'be like this' or 'regularly do that'. Our faith becomes more about our 'doing' than 'being'. Oops.
What man-made laws and traditions have you put into your life that are holding you back from the fullness of God's love, grace and freedom he has given you today? Maybe these self-laws and traditions have been there for years, ecades even. Be like Paul. Be harsh to the laws and traditions in your life that are not worth the time, remove them and receive the freedom from Jesus today.