Every time I pack a bag for a trip, one thought is going to pop up: What can I leave behind? What don’t I need?
For me, it all comes down to keeping all of my clothes in a carry-on bag. My record is a nine-day trip with a carry on. There was some serious ironing going on that week, but I did it.
If I can avoid it, I love to forego baggage claim. Waiting on my bag takes time I don’t often have, and more than once I’ve watched the carousel go around and around for too long, only to find out my bag is somewhere in nowhere land.
A journey of faith, I believe, is the same. We’ve got to let go of stuff if we are to succeed and find a genuine, effective and powerful connection with God through Jesus Christ.
This web site often focuses on a 1stFaith; the idea that the first apostles had faith figured out. The closer we get to their faith, the closer we are to a true and vibrant faith.
Their faith was simple. But to get there, their journey was full of letting go. Ours must be as well.
Jesus said something about this in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus gets into the “but I say to you” stuff, he is telling his listeners to start chucking the old beliefs.
Take this one in Matthew 5:21-22 where Jesus says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court . . . .”
Whoa. Under tradition, one could think anything about another person and still not be in violation of the law.
Anger? Okay. Thoughtless words? Still okay. As long as one’s thoughts didn’t turn to violence, all was well; the commandment against murder wasn’t violated.
But not with Jesus. In the journey Jesus laid out for his early Jewish followers, they had to let go of traditional thinking.
If I really, really, really (that’s for emphasis–hope it works) want to find a 1stFaith–one like they had–there are surely traditions I’ve got to ditch.
Because I guarantee when I read the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, there are going to be moments when I see a verse or two and say to myself, “Yeah, that’s true. But I also know . . .”
“I also know” is a phrase telling me I’ve got some tradition which may need ditching.
When these moments arise, I must ask myself, “Is my tradition something taught by those first apostles? Did they focus on it? Emphasize it? Spend time on it?”
Just a thought here, and don’t accuse me of heresy (yet). I’m just shooting from the hip but I think it’s worth considering: A huge majority of our denominational differences come from traditions not emphasized or taught by those first apostles.
Some might readily agree with me. But are we willing to challenge ourselves and ask, “Should I let it go?”
This is the hard part. It’s easy to laugh at ourselves for our seemingly small disagreements; it gets difficult when Kirk has to say to himself, “Let it go.”
Those early followers, who just happened to be the most effective Christians in world history, had few conflicts over what was important. In fact, when they did have issues, their default solution was to simplify.
Today when we see faith questions arise, modern Christianity tends to default toward more books and greater complication. We would do best by letting go instead of adding new courses and seminars to explain our beliefs.
If you read this blog going forward, we’re going to simplify. Too many people need hope to get wrapped up in complicated stuff.
Peter told his readers (I Peter 3:15) to be ready to make a sound defense of the hope within them. I’ll bet Peter’s defense was a simple one, leaving tradition behind.