I alluded to this idea in an earlier post but I thought I should flesh it out a bit more…
Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of speaking at Camp Nakamun for both a family camp and for a Junior High camp. I absolutely love speaking and so both of these events give me life and purpose, although there is a vast difference between the two. The sermons were of course very different. For the adults I focused on teaching from the bible, almost lecture style, because I was trying to point out the threads of Old Testament Truths that weave their way in and through the teachings in the New Testament. It was based entirely upon the ideas from my former blog entries Behind the Words.
For the Junior High Camp I focused on biblical passages punctuated by Epic Biblical Stories. If you were to compare my teaching styles my assumption is that the two would be different. I, of course, prefer the Junior High style because it allows more of my personality to come through the teaching but I am growing more and more comfortable with the adult preaching.
One thing that I have come to recognize though is that some themes and ideas translate fairly well in both settings. One of those themes is Biblical or Bubblical.
When a Christian grows up in a particular church or religious culture there are certain beliefs that become synonymous with our religious practice which are not necessarily biblical. The examples range from worship styles all the way to church appropriate clothing. As a teenager I struggled with the fact that I was not allowed to wear jeans in church even though they were appropriate in every other situation in my life. My parents had a strong conviction that dancing was wrong and that prevented me from being a part of school dances while growing up. Other Christian parents had issues with playing cards, or movies or even how much makeup a girl could wear.
These are not necessarily biblical issues, they are purely cultural. While I will agree that there is probably not anything “good” about school dances, and yes many movies can be extremely evil and inappropriate for Christians I do not consider them a biblical issue.
Is there a danger in bubblical Christianity? Yes, because from the outside, a non-christian can see these bubbles and recognize them as that. They can see that our faith is based upon a traditional view and can often see where our views may conflict with a perceived biblical idea. These bubblical views put us in the awkward position of defending a tradition rather than a biblical truth. We are not called in Matthew 28 to defend our religious traditions but instead to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of the world who desperately need him. Many times our bubbles can be a detriment to our witness.
I believe that Jesus tackled this issue head on whenever he got “in trouble” from the religious leaders over issues like the Sabbath. He was constantly being harassed for breaking traditions. Jesus knew these were traditions and not biblical ideals so he willingly broke traditions for the sake of his true calling and mission. I see it like this, when religious tradition gets too important it begins to develop its own bubble.
In my view, Jesus simply wandered around with a big “truth pin” bursting bubbles as he went about doing his ministry. He has a beautiful explanation in Mark 7: 6 – 13. He is speaking to some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were questioning him because his disciples ate without ceremonially washing their hands. Thereby making the food “unclean.” They were not concerned about personal hygiene, they were concerned about Jesus’ blatant disregard for tradition. This is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees…
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… Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”
It hurts to have our bubbles burst, many times we don’t even realize that we are holding on to a tradition that is not necessarily biblical. In my experience, when we get our bubbles burst our initial reaction is anger, or defense, but ultimately, when we let the truth of the bible sink in we will find that our faith is strengthened by the process of having our bubbles burst.
What bubbles are you holding on to? What religious traditions are you holding on to that are probably more cultural than biblical?
If you find some, I would encourage you to burst those bubbles yourself before Jesus has to use his truth pin on you.