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Culture Check

Tuesday, February 27th
Culture Check
By: Shirley Davis 
Matthew 15:1-20

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Whatever culture and religion we grow up in tends to form the basis of our logic and beliefs. Even as Christ followers, we are apt to think that “our” form of worship and understanding of the Bible is the “right” one! You may have heard jokes about areas in Heaven that are walled off so that a certain denomination remains unaware that they  aren’t the only ones there!

But one of the big differences between the Old and New Testament is that the followers of Jesus are told to go out into all the world to share the Gospel. In a sense, once we become followers of Christ, we set aside our natural citizenship and take on the citizenship of God’s Kingdom. Through the Holy Spirit and the study of the Bible, our mind and understanding become renewed to be in conformity to God’s.

This means that we must also take a hard look at our own culture and beliefs to see how they line up with God’s. Sometimes, as we study and seek God’s way, this can be quite disquieting – and in fact cause us problems within our families or circle of friends! But the above verses should be clear enough to encourage us to always choose God’s way!

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