Monday, November 15, 2010
On most mornings I cross paths with two Amish boys on their way... somewhere. The horse is trotting along on the berm of the highway, and most often there's a black piece of plastic tacked across the front of the open buggy. Two pairs of eyes from under the brims of two straw hats peer above the black tarp in an attempt to stay out of the weather and still see where they are going. I always slow down to watch and I wonder...
Why? I've known many Amish in my life. For seventeen years, most of my neighbors were Amish, and I discovered that the dark clothes and adherence to the old ways are not about religion. It's solely tradition that keeps them from adapting to modern society. I guess I could understand if they believed that abstaining from progress was their ticket to heaven... if somehow being set apart from the common man was going to make God smile. But that's simply not what it's about. In fact, their church services have little to do with building a relationship with God and are more of a social event. The services are performed in High German, a language that few but the elders know, then a huge feast and fellowship time fills most of the day. The majority of Amish rules are simply intent on keeping Amish tradition.
I'm reminded of a conversation between Jesus and religious men in Matthew 5:2-3....
2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandments of God by your tradition?
Later in verse six, Jesus reprimands them again by saying, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." That's a pretty strong statement! What would it feel like for my Savior to look at me and say, "Your traditions are more important to you than pleasing me!" Ouch!
The two great commandments are:
1. Love the Lord with all thy soul, heart and strength
2. Love your neighbor as thyself
Do I get caught up in my own religious traditions? God help me to never get so immersed in them that they become more important than my relationship with God or my fellow man!