"... So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, 'Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?'
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.'
And he said to them: 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:1-13, NIV)
One of the most intersting times in my life was the four years I was part of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. During that time I experienced how our traditions can be more important to us than God's instructions.
As a Jehovah's Witness I did not celebrate any holidays. Prior to that I had celebrated them. So when I stopped, it was shocking to folks. The tradition in our culture is to celebrate these holidays. When I stopped celebrating them that automatically made me an outsider.
The holidays that caused me the most trouble were Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. By trouble, I mean that people hated me for not celebrating them. Some were Christians. Maybe "hate" is a strong word. But for certain, they disliked me. It was as if I became their enemy, because I did not celebrate the holidays.
God's instructions are to love your enemy. Loving your enemy is opposite of man's tradition to hate his enemies.(Matthew 5:43-48)
The opposition I felt was interesting to me, because there are other ways that I can give thanks to God and celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ without celebrating cultural holidays.
For example, I can discern from the Spirit how He would have me to give thanks and celebrate as a lifestyle.
I believe that there are several reasons why God allowed me to be a JW. Here are a few.
I learned the origins of our cultural holidays.
I discovered how traditions can become more important to us than ADONAI's instructions.
It was my preparation for becoming a disciple of Yehoshua.
Also, I learned that I needed to examine my traditions, to examine my thought patterns. I want to be led by the Spirit of God in me, not by traditions. (Romans 12:1-2)
For those who knew me, I pray that my being a JW, led them to Christ. God will use anything, any situation, anyone to lead people to His Son.
For those who were Christians, I pray that the Holy Spirit revealed something in their hearts that was not of God.
The holidays are right around the corner. Not everyone will celebrate them. For example, we have many Muslims living in the United States.
Let us worship the Lord in the tradition of spirit and in truth so that they will see this tradition in us and desire to know the Messiah!