Truth vs Tradition / Customs & Slavery
My wifes family has a "tradition", everyone meets at grandmas house on Christmas Eve, a big part of that tradition includes a birthday cake for Jesus which when presented after the meal everyone sings Happy Birthday to Jesus. This serves as a great way to help the kids especially (but the adults as well) to remember among all the hubbub of the season why we are truly together and whats being celebrated. Is this event a Biblical command? No, But yet is it anti Biblical? No again, Christmas celebration in itself has become a "tradition", it's not a Biblical directive. We all know that the dates not even right, but it's a traditional time of recognizing the birth of the Christ, the Messiah our Lord and Saviour (traditionaly).
To clarify, I claim no "special" knowledge, these writings are drawn from observations and my understanding of Christdom, some may agree and some may not. It's one thing to know and be sure of what you believe, self assured is good (God assured is better). We should be strong and knowledgeable in "our Faith". It's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not our parents, spouses or Pastors, we shouldn't be blown "to & fro" in our beliefs. Yet, we should always be open to growing, learning and experiencing more of God in Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives.
I do feel that "we" need to stop telling everyone how to "be" a Christian and start letting people know how they can become a Christian, it's not acting. I fear that we often focus more on actions than Faith. Theres also a big difference between encouraging someone in their Faith and condemning them in their growth. There tends to be a lot of "condemning" in a vain attempt to convict. People grow and develop at different speeds. "we" are not God, Christ or the Holy Spirit, the motivation behind our words must be questioned - especially when we are brash.
~ It is our call to profess our Faith, and the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is the Holy Spirits job to convict and motivate a person to change / surrender. As with Pentecost, the Holy Spirit will do what it needs - we just need to get out of it's way.~
I've wrestled lately with Truth vs. tradition, knowing for example that the Catholic Church uses both in it's decision making process. The more I observe, study & learn I see that Judaism and the Reformation movement often do as well. Where I was really "floored" was when I realized that god has worked with tradition (custom) as well. The "custom" of the time when the original Law was given to the Israelites God didn't "abolish" slavery, this is a sticking point for many. However, He DID make concessionairy rules on how to treat slaves & servants. This carries through to the New testament too noted by Jesus and Paul. Many people have a problem with God "allowing" or "condoning" slavery which really wasn't the case - it was "custom" and it was BIG! In the Roman Empire half or more of all the people were "slaves / servants", to have them all set "free" would have crippled the world economy, and would have sent many of the slaves to certain death as their food and provision came from their masters.
There are many things that God detests, but they still "happened", please remember we live in a sinful, wicked and fallen world. God has eradicated it before, and has leveled cities / empires when they reached their full measure of wickedness - however, He's also been patient, and has always given ample opportunity for them to repent and change their ways. Kind of a side note here, these "slaves" were more along the line of endentured servants. When we think of slavery as Americans we often think of our sad past in this trade. Had early American "slave owners" of old truly followed Gods Word and Law things would have been much different. The slaves would have been "employees", treated humanely and been well provided for, as some were although it seems sadly not the majority. Once again, "custom" it takes time but things do change. God detests divorce, but allows it under certain situations (although He seeks & prefers forgiveness and restoration) but because we are a wicked people, theres a concession. However repeated unfaithfullness seems to be a good and acceptable reason, so if a marriage covenant is equal to our Christ covenant what "might" that imply about our salvation. (just a thought - don't freak out on me!)
I know this may not be the answer some are looking for as to God and slavery, this answer may not set well. However we cannot claim to know the mind of God or understand His ways, we surely aren't smarter or more righteous than Him, so, if we believe IN Him, then we must also believe Him, and that means trusting in His ways & His plan far beyond what we can see. Lastly, we might do a better job of encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ, if when we are trying to remove a "speck from their eye" we first remove the log from ours. This is a two fold plan as #1) would allow us to "see" better and #2) We might not hit them about the head and face so much, beating them up as we near them if the board weren't protrouding.
Gods Blessings to all!
Love & Peace in Christ