Traditions Nullify God's Word
As sincere as we’ve been, we have to get ourselves out of the way. The beauty of everything God wants to do with the precious ladies in your lives, and in your homes and in the world around you, and in the church—most of what God wants to do will be done as we get out of His way instead of trying to do something for Him. What did Jesus say that the traditions of men do? They “nullify the word of God” (Mark 7:13).
So, we should get rid of as many of those traditions as we can, so that we’re not nullifying the Word of God. If we want to hear God, we have to quit listening to ourselves so much! We need to get out of all these bad habits and wrong thinking:
“This is how we have always done it.”
“This is what everybody wants us to do.”
“If we don’t do this, then people will think badly of us and insult us.”
“Let’s use some titles, okay? Why don’t we all have titles?”
Please, let’s not! Jesus forbid titles. “Call no man leader, Master, Teacher, Rabbi, Pastor, Reverend, Father” (Matt. 23:9). Why don’t we just get rid of titles since Jesus forbid them?
No one ever called Paul or Peter or John by a title. Are we more spiritual than they are? Find me just one time where any one of those men is called by a title in the Bible. It didn’t happen. Am I more spiritual than Paul? Of course not! Then don’t call me by a title. Paul didn’t need one and I don’t either. We are all brothers, bought by Jesus’ Blood and that is our only identity. We have gifts, and as some of us discussed a few days ago, if I played the violin, would you call me “Violin Mike?”
That would be crazy!
“Well look, it’s Violin Mike. Good to see you!” That’s ridiculous because my gift doesn’t mean I should have a title. I can simply offer my gift quietly, without any title associated with it. I don’t have to be Violin Mike. I can just be Mike who plays the violin sometimes—when it’s appropriate. That’s how all gifts in the Body of Christ should be. “Call no man leader.” We don’t need to assign leaders. Where we live, we haven’t assigned a leader in twenty years in the church, yet the church has grown and grown and reached into 120 countries.
We have never marketed anything or sold anything. We’ve never had titles and we’ve never even had a Bible study! We have no system and no salaries. In twenty years, we’ve never needed any of those things. Why? First of all, because it’s not in the Bible. Gifts are in the Bible. Sharing with those who need help and sharing with those who have helped us spiritually—those things are in the Bible. We can do all those things. But we don’t need to assign leaders and give titles and build hierarchies. We don’t need those because first, they’re not in the Bible and second, they are traditions of men. Men always want to turn to those things, but we’re just brothers with gifts. A gift of shepherd should help the flock. He doesn’t have to draw attention to himself and be the boss in order to help people and quietly feed them. Violins play when violins should play.
The gift of teaching doesn’t have to promote itself or have a title. It can just teach when it hears something that needs some illumination and help in understanding the Scriptures. We’re responsive to the needs, with the gifts that God put in each of us. And we give everyone the liberty to do the same thing. “When revelation comes to the second, let the first one sit down.” That’s the nature of the Body of Christ in Jesus. But the traditions of men have choked the things that God wants to do.
So, the more sisters and brothers that are involved in your family on a daily basis, the more you will no longer feel the burden to be the perfect man. You do bring a gift to your family but you don’t bring all the gifts to your family. I know that I don’t. My son needs Titus, Timothy, Silas and Aquila and Priscilla. My son needs all of those gifts in his daily life, because I don’t have all the gifts. And when I’m gone for a month, I’m not afraid for my children. They’re probably better off without me for periods of time. : )
My children love me, of course, but the fact is, I’m not Jesus! Jesus poured out His gifts to the Body, not just to me. I have certain things I can offer my children, and I do have responsibility for them ultimately, but I need Silas, Timothy, Apollos, and all of those gifts in my daily life. And you and your family need them just like mine does.
“How do you become more spiritual and intimate and have these kinds of relationships?” It’s through the humility of giving to others what you hope they’ll give to you. You offer in your daily life to others what you hope someone will offer to you and your family. The life of Jesus is very, very contagious. With the humility, the openness, the softness, and the vulnerability that Jesus calls each of us to have, we offer those to one another with tears and with laughter. Then God begins to mold and make something that we never decided to start.
We didn’t figure out how to “start” this. We didn’t start anything! It’s just something that God birthed, “we know not how,” to quote Jesus. We pull the weeds, sow the seed, eat the scrolls, and we digest the Life of God—the Word of God. We do our part, and then we get ourselves, our flesh, our traditions, our sins, our fears, and our pride out of the way and the Life of God emerges around us…we know not how. When we’re selfish, we smother that Life. If we’re prideful, we squish it. If we’re lazy, we pull away from it. If we’re fearful, then we lose it.
But if we’ll lay everything at the foot of Jesus’ Cross and allow Him to work in us and through us with the seed of the Word of God, then He will work, we know not how. This is a picture of what Jesus wants, and if we’ll do that, then He’ll do His part. The Lord will build the House and the gates of hell won’t prevail. The way you opened up a little while ago is something that invites that Life. The seed is the Word. It’s not something we start.
Something else we talked about a few days ago was that God does not bring to the point of birth and not give delivery, as Isaiah said. He’s going to give us the labor pains. He has put things in each of your lives in the weeks and months that built up to today, and He’s putting things on you today and will continue in the days and weeks ahead. All along He has been building in all of your lives in many different ways, and today by itself doesn’t mean anything. This is just one more thing that God is doing for all of us—for us and for you.
Today is just one more thing. There was always yesterday and there will always be tomorrow until He takes us Home. It’s just one more thing and isn’t especially important. But the seeds that God has sown in our hearts and lives—if we’ll allow those seeds to prosper, we’ll have miracles happen and we’ll know not how. Someone might say, “Oh, you guys are a great and a mighty church.” And you’ll say, “What? We just love each other so what’s the big deal? It’s just basic Christianity.”
Someone says to you, “Oh, you’re such a spiritual man and you know God so well and your children have grown up to be mighty!”
And you’ll say, “Ahhh…No, no, no…That’s just Johnny…and that’s just Sally…”
“We just love Jesus. That’s no big deal.”
We’re not trying to accomplish anything or be anything. We’re just trying to get our flesh, our traditions, our shallow thinking and all these things out of the way. So much has been put on us over all these years about what church is supposed to be and what a Christian is. To be a Christian you just need to “say a prayer.” Where is that in the Bible? Say a prayer and become a Christian? Try to find that just one time in the Bible. It isn’t in there, but we’ve all been taught that in seminary. That doesn’t mean you don’t pray and you don’t talk to Jesus if you want Jesus to save your soul. But there are a lot of people that have said prayers who aren’t even Christians.
The point is that everything that pertains to life and Godliness has been given. He’s already opened that door to us! These are not new things or things to do or accomplish. It’s the freedom of letting go of those things that have gotten in the way, more than it is starting or accomplishing something. This gives me hope for my family because I don’t have to be everything and do everything. It gives me hope for my future, because the government is on His shoulders, right? The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the government is on His shoulders and His zeal shall accomplish it. Is it my zeal? No…these are things He wants and will accomplish.
So, if He wants it and I get out of the way, then He’s going to accomplish these things in the Earth. This is the season we’re in right now. Around the world this is the season for God getting His way in the Church and gathering and building His people to be the light of world and not hidden under a bushel basket. The mountain of the Lord’s temple is established as Chief among the mountains (Isaiah 2), not just hiding in a corner or underground. God wants His people to shine like stars in the universe and that’s what we’re talking about this morning.