Tradition can be good and helpful or bad and destructive. In each generation, God’s people must refresh the faith to assure the believers are not destroyed by worn-out containers. Nowhere is this more important than with spiritual language.
Spiritual language can become religious language with the passing of one generation. It occurs when the containers—words—no longer contain the meaning. Language is alive and constantly changing. The fact that Jesus showed up in the flesh indicates the extreme measure that God took so you and I would get the point.
In 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 Paul says, “Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus.” The word “Yes” is most often used among Christians—using an old form: “Amen.”
Yet, if you ask many Christians, they have no clue what the word means. It is a religious container, but no longer a faith container. Most people, if they guess, would think it means “the end.”
What Paul is addressing here in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 is that Christians can have “confidence” in their belief. “Confidence” is a word that comes from two other words, “with” and “faith.”
Many Christians, if you ask them if they are sure (“confident”) about God’s gift of eternal life, say “I hope so.” That’s not confidence! They have missed God’s “Yes” in Jesus. Paul says in these same verses, “God’s ‘Yes’ is God’s way of affirming our faith as a sure thing.” It is “a sure beginning of what He has destined to complete.”
Whenever there is a new translation of the Bible, there are always detractors. The same is true of new forms of worship, dress codes, even the way churches shape their buildings. These containers are religious, not spiritual. When they work, use them. When they no longer work, change them—so the meaning gets through! When God chose to show up in the “incarnation,” it meant, literally, “in meat.” (Ever eat chili con “carne”—with “meat”?)
Jesus in the flesh is God’s great demonstration—God’s great amen—God’s great yes—that He cares so much more about living faith than about rote religion. It amazes me how many churches perpetuate “feel-good” words like “Thy,” “Thou,” “amen,” and “hallelujah.” My research among Christians demonstrates that many don’t know what they mean. Religion!
The real tragedy is that God’s people take relevant, incarnate faith in Jesus and make it old, out-of-date, confusing, and irrelevant to unbelievers and believers alike. It is the polar opposite of everything God does in Jesus Christ. And it makes the faith impotent to reach the lost. How selfish! Yes!