Go here for part 1.
Despite revivals and the like, the church, without the Spirit and the word, has a propensity to fall away from the simplicity of faith in Jesus. Whether through mixing things like cultural values or tradition with God’s word or simply through bad interpretation, we have inadvertently complicated what should be easy to attain. Whatever our reasons, extras like special places, buildings, special days, titles, clothing, status, gender roles and in cases even issues of preeminent race have been added back at different times. Despite the presumable good intentions, these add-ons serve only to weaken faith, because Jesus alone is the source of our faith and the accompanied life of faith.
Many churches, whether new or traditional, have these unnecessary and distracting add-ons. It seems inevitable that man will concoct something extra to try and make the unseen faith in Christ more tangible. He wants to support his faith with things, but unfortunately he may be substituting his faith with them. Now, some stuff may be harmless, but when it is “forced” onto people, alarm bells should ring in your head. Even courses, programs and meetings can be unnecessary.
Some have gravitated to equating the shadows of the Old Testament with the New Covenant in Christ. The earthly Jerusalem is revered, garments are worn, horns are blown, certain jargon is used, particular days are esteemed, and special feasts are kept. These have an appearance of being helpful and give the participants both a sense and an appearance of maturity. Yet, all the while they’re nothing more than shadows keeping them from Jesus. They are diversions from the source, and keep one in a state of infancy.
Although generally neutral in and of themselves, it’s the meaning and the weight that we so easily attach to them that causes problems. The necessity of any add-on is determined by asking whether it will really help you in your walk with God. Ask yourself if it is Biblically founded. Often, they simply create a religious atmosphere giving you the illusion of a richer relationship with Him. For example, walking into a church building can give one a sense of awe and reverence that is Biblically unfounded. Now, I don’t advocate getting rid of buildings, but rather correcting our view of them. They are no more or less religious than a school building. So, while in some cases things should be removed if they have no real usefulness, in others the status that they carry needs to be reconsidered.
Now, I certainly don’t wish to destabilize the faith of those who practice with any add-ons. Rather, each person should determine for themselves what is irrelevant and what is useful to their faith. However, I would like to warn that we avoid imposing things on others while being watchful that they aren’t imposed on us. Also, if you feel someone is trapped by add-ons, pray, and should the Lord wish to use you, teach them correctly and wean them from non-Biblical thinking that is robbing them from maturing in Christ.
While giving room for a wide range of expression, let’s avoid the pitfalls of add-ons. Let’s do all that we can to make it clear that God Himself has been made completely accessible through the blood of Jesus, and that by God’s Spirit, Jesus alone wishes to be our source of light and life.