Besides being fed up with their faithlessness and ignorance, Yeshua’s (Jesus) biggest complaint when He was ministering to the people was that they gave more importance to the Rabbinic traditions then they did to God’s word. It is clear throughout the Gospels how He felt, accusing the Pharisees of hypocrisy, and adding more to what God required (Matthew 23.)
We have known of Yeshua’s request to do what God has said we should do (and to beware of hypocrisy) for centuries, and after all these centuries what have we learned?
Nothing. In fact, back then it was just Jews following Yeshua and Jews not following Yeshua, but today we have so many different religions (all man-made) with so many different laws and canons and requirements and traditions that not only have we not learned, but we have exponentially made it worse!
Jews that didn’t want to follow Yeshua made it hard for the ones that did, then Rome made it worse, so the followers began to separate themselves from the Jews, which led to ignoring some of the Torah. Then they wanted to separate further, and the Council of Nicene developed their own religion, changing the Sabbath, creating their own holidays, and developing Canon, laws, commandments and rituals (all man-made) that took precedence over the Festivals of the Lord that God told us we should celebrate (Leviticus 23.) What they did was to totally ignore God’s commandments, just as Jeroboam did when God gave him the 10 Tribes of the Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12:2.)
So Christians became Catholics, became Eastern Orthodox and Western Orthodox, became Lutherans, became Protestants, became, became, became, became….until today there are dozens of different Christian denominations; adding to the ones I mentioned above, there are Unitarians, 7th Day Adventists, Latter Day Saints, Methodists, Amish, Mennonites, AME, Baptists (Southern and others), Christian Scientists, Quakers, and the list goes on and on.
Let’s not forget the Jews: Chasidic (different groups within this), Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Messianic (yes, my Jewish readers, Messianic Judaism IS a sect of Judaism:Messianic Jews are not Christians.)
If everyone is worshiping the same God, then how can there be all these different ways of worshiping? All agree this is the same God, the God that doesn’t change. So, if He doesn’t change, and He told us how to worship Him when he gave the teachings to Moses (which describe how we are to worship and provides penal and moral codes we are to live by), then how can there be so many different ways to live and worship? The Torah is a constitution, but unlike a political constitution which can be amended, God’s constitution is never to be amended. He told us that in Deuteronomy 4:2.
I got on this “kick” by reading Dear Abby, where she was asked by someone who’s Grandmother believed all children need to be baptized, and another granddaughter had a baby that was not being baptized. The writer asked if it would be OK to baptize the baby in secret just so the Grandmother feels better. Good for Abby!- she told them no way. But here is what “gets” me about this- where did anyone ever get the idea that God would send an infant to hell because it wasn’t baptized? I know that Yeshua said we must all be reborn of spirit and water, but when we read about John (Yochanan) baptizing in the Jordan, it was adults who were coming. There is nothing in the bible that even implies children were there, let alone infants. To even imply God would send an innocent infant or child to hell because some Priest or Minister didn’t have someone else promise that the kid would be raised in that religion (remember- God has no religion, so that promise can’t really mean anything to God) is nothing short of ridiculous! Maybe even blasphemous. The only one who gains anything from the baptism ceremony is the church/priest. From what I have seen, $40 is the recommended “donation”, but then again, you have the textile industry (you need to buy the baby a Baptism dress), the card company, the food industry (“Come back to our place for refreshments afterwards”), and who knows who else makes money from this ceremony?
Baptism, as it is done in the church today, is absolutely wrong. The truth about the Jewish ceremony called Tevilah, which is the baptism Yochanan did in the Jordan, is a ceremony that represents an outward expression of an inner, spiritual cleansing. It is something that one decides to do, and an infant cannot make that decision for itself. And, since this represents a communion and relationship between the baptized and the Lord, obviously no one else can make that decision for them.
To bring it all together, I believe the traditions that people have created in order to worship God in their own way only pollutes the true spiritual meaning of worship. God told us how to act, to worship, and to treat each other, His laws and regulations are not too hard to follow, they are not too difficult to understand, and they are not to be messed with.
If you really think that God is going to send an infant to hell because it hasn’t had someone pour water on it, you don’t understand anything about God. And because the infant hasn’t made it’s own decision to be baptized, the entire ceremony is really just pouring water on the kid.
I have nothing against traditions- they help to bind us, to remind us, and to keep us acting in a proper manner. It is a comfort zone, of a kind, and when the traditions we form are in keeping with and complementing God’s commandments, they are useful, practical and can be a blessing. But when they take on more importance than what God said to do, and we follow traditions that don’t complement but compete with God’s commandments, then we are blaspheming. We are ignoring God and idolizing ourselves and expanding our own importance.
The tagline for my ministry (this blog) is designed to honor God and get you on the right path: “God has no religion.” God has given us what He wants us to do- no more, no less. And when we add to it or subtract from it, we are telling God that what He says isn’t good enough.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to face God and tell Him He didn’t get it right.