Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Acts 7:44-53 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says,
‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
Did not my hand make all these things?’
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”
Tradition…tradition! The movie, “Fiddler On The Roof”, examines a man’s struggle to justify and enforce the long-standing traditions his wife and daughters find impractical and unreasonable.
We hate change! Every member of a long-established congregation knows that a request to move the piano, take down a picture, or replace the carpeting will be met with a detailed history lesson on who donated or chose those items, followed closely by a firm denial of the request. Despite the facts – the pianist hates playing with her back to the congregation, the picture is sun-faded beyond redemption, and the carpet is threadbare in multiple places – tradition trumps practicality.
The Jewish leaders, like their ancestors, were putting ceremony, tradition, history, and the law ahead of the urgings of the Holy Spirit. Their lens of tradition was blurred by millions of fingerprints, and their lens of history was covered by layers of ancient dust: they were unable to focus and couldn’t see the Messiah they were seeking!
We can’t afford to miss Jesus! When we spend more time debating the room temperature, the carpet, and the music than we do discussing outreach, discipleship, and worship, we need to clean our lenses and focus on the One we are seeking.
God, please soften our hearts and loosen our stiff necks. Open our eyes and help us to shift our focus from the way it’s always been done to the way you want it done. Help us remember that no one has rejected the gospel because of the piano’s placement, but many have rejected it because of our petty arguments and our insistence on doing things our way. Amen
Go with God!