Have you ever stopped and asked yourself: “Why do I do what I do?” Why do I believe what I believe? Why do I hold certain things sacred and have very little time for others? Why do I prefer a certain way opposed to another? Good question …
A story is told of an elderly teacher, with a pupil by his side, that took a walk through a forest. Suddenly he stopped and pointed to four plants close at hand.
The first was just beginning to peep above the ground, the second had rooted itself pretty well into the earth, the third was a small shrub, while the fourth was a full-sized tree.
The tutor said to his young companion, ‘Pull up the first plant.’ The boy did so eagerly, using only his fingers. ‘Now pull up the second.’ The youth obeyed but found the task more difficult. ‘Do the same with the third,’ he urged. The boy had to use all his strength to uproot it. ‘Now,’ said the instructor, ‘try your hand with the fourth.’ The pupil put his arms around the trunk of the tall tree and couldn’t even shake its leaves.
‘This, my son, is just what happens with our bad habits. When they are young, we can remove them readily; but when they are old, it’s hard to uproot them, though we pray and struggle ever so sincerely.’
The reality is this is true of all habits and not just bad habits.
Everything that’s like second nature in your lives right now, at one time or another, used to be like a small young plant.
And as you embraced and nurtured it (knowingly and unknowingly) it started growing and got stronger until it became part of your life. In fact, it has become so much part of you that you no longer second-guess it anymore, or perhaps, never have. “It is just who you are,” right!?
Here’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past and of late: “As Christians, and as church, why do we do what we do?”
Do we even know?
Do we know and yet chose another way?
Or have we never really thought about the way we do things and therefore just perpetuate something that we believe is the right thing, since it’s the only thing, and we know nothing else?
Is it perhaps possible that we have been keeping certain “Sacred Cows” alive that should have died a long time ago? And are these sacred cows perhaps keeping us from being set free from a life of tradition-bound devotion to a life of true spiritual freedom?
For example, do you know how it came about that many Christians meet on Sundays and not the Sabbath (like the early Jewish Christians)?
Do you know why we have church buildings? What about the architecture? The general layout of most churches?
Do you know why we sit in rows and where wooden pews come from?
What about the table in the front with the various elements (usually bread or wine, oil or a Bible)?
How about beautifully stained glass in some church buildings?
The sermon? Clergy attire?
Candles in the service?
Trained and ordained ministers or priests?
Passing of the offering plate.
Multiple church services on a Sunday?
The list goes on and on.
No doubt, many of the things we do today are habit but do we know what the “small plant” looked like in the beginning. And more importantly, do we have any knowledge of what the Gardener’s original intention was and have an intention to continuously progress towards it?
Why do we do what we do? Why do YOU do what you do?
And is it really what Jesus wanted and advocated?
And how does this impact my life as a believer today in a challenging world?
Or more importantly – how has it formed my life and walk as a believer in Christ Jesus in the modern day era?
What exactly happened in the 2000 years since Jesus walked the earth? And what does that means for you and me as believers today.
These are some things we’ll be looking at in the next posts. What are the Sacred Cows we’re keeping alive but should really be questioned and perhaps even put down?
And who knows, it might turn your world upside down or liberate you forever.
Let’s wait and see.
May light and peace fill your life.