I love Math. It was always my favourite subject, one which I rarely got less than 96% for. It eventually became my dream to do a degree in Math and Psychology progressing onto a PhD in Math. Well, that never happened and instead God called me to labour in His vineyard – which I do enjoy!
I completed my high school education in New Zealand after having done my secondary here in Sri Lanka. Calculators weren’t allowed in Sri Lanka so by the time my fellow students took out their calculators in New Zealand, I would have finished doing it mentally. My fellow students used to exclaim that I had a calculator in my head!! Memories!
During this time of interaction, I recall the confusion over the word “INTO”. What they were saying and what I was saying was the same thing – in my understanding… yet the class negatively responded and corrected me. I went home and checked the Oxford dictionary… yup they were indeed right. Here in Sri Lanka, the word “INTO” is collectively used for multiplication whereas the dictionary defines it as division!!! Hence 4 into 12 is NOT the Sri Lankan 48 but rather it’s 3!
(And there are many other terms that are mis-used in its own part of the world!) Of course even knowing what is right, we sometimes find ourselves going with the flow – the wrong flow – to be understood!!
However, this goes to show how we can get so caught up in CULTURE and TRADITIONS and believe that to be RIGHT even though it’s actually UNIVERSALLY WRONG! Oh pardon me, universally except for the particular nation!
Believing and preserving our culture and traditions, often lead us to be narrow minded and stubborn frogs in a well. We know the well to be our world and we think all is well and perfect. Anything outside of that well is WRONG and even SIN. I have heard many frogs in the well saying, “This is how I know it, and I’m happy with it so I will stick to it”. Which leads me to the question, can true believers be frogs in the well? If we are happy to be content with what we know and think it’s right and all others are wrong, then what does that say about our heart’s attitude? Arrogance or pride perhaps? They welcome people to their territories and expect people to conform to their rules and regulations as their value system is right and anything anyone else does in their freedom is wrong.
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. ) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! – Mark 7:1-9
Jesus then went on to define what ‘clean’ really was… How often are rules taught by men imposed on our lives? How often do we impose OUR traditions on those around us? Do we have that same fervour to teach people to walk in love as that is what God wants us to do? Walking in love will entail embracing people the way they are just as God embraced us by His grace!
Paul was advancing in Judaism and was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers (Galatians 1:14). God called him out of that, to believe in Jesus and sent him to preach to the Gentiles!
Jesus tells us to GO… to go the people…. The more we interact with people, the more we go to their territories the more we question our ways! The more we realise that there are other ways too. Like my ‘into’ misconception, we learn the errors of our ways. The more we go out, the more we are able to embrace people and embrace their ways instead of shunning them. Our prejudices against other races and ethnicities and cultures begin to fall away as we see people beneath the stereo types – human beings beneath the varied complexions and behaviours.
As we grow more and more in Christ, and allow Him to restore us into His image, our identity changes from being patriotic or based on our culture, as our ways then become His ways.. We now become children of God, the family of God.. citizens of heaven… not citizens of earth. We increasingly realise that our time on earth is fleeting, passing.. and we become Kingdom minded not cultural minded.
From the complex mathematic expressions of culture and traditions we step into simply eternity!
We explore the traditions of our lives that contradict with God’s Word… with God’s ways.. Universal trends too fall into this category such as seeking worldly security. Many cry out to God to own a house as that would give them security and also security for their children.. What about the people who have lost all what they owned – property and belongings – to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis and mudslides or bush fires or to wars and bombs?
- Is this where our security lies? Where do our priorities lie? Is it about me and my family or is it about God’s Kingdom?
- Are we claiming to be believers by lip service only or do we truly believe God’s Word? Do we desire to do what He has asked us to do and trust that what He promises will come to pass in His way, in His time in His Will?
- Are we seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and thus seeing His promise of all our needs being added to us?
let’s go into the nations..
let’s be fruitful and multiply..
see multitudes being added..
the goats being divided from the sheep..
the wicked being taken away from the righteous
as we step into eternity..