“So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ “
They were inquisitive kids, which was not out of the ordinary. Whether in school, at home or at church, they challenged what they were taught because they truly wanted to understand what they were expected to know. As they grew and progressed through Sunday school the questions got deeper, but there was a reason for that. Tradition was king in their denomination. The instruction of children in the church focused primarily on teaching them ceremony and procedure, but they rarely had to crack open a bible. Whenever they questioned a rule or instruction for which they could find no biblical support, they were discounted. Being directed not by scripture but by supplements, they joined forces in exploring the word to substantiate the points of faith they had been taught. That was the moment at which they began to learn that much of what they had been shown as truth was no more than the invention of man.
There is a standard to which the Father holds those who teach his word. [James 3:1] It is not a position to be taken lightly as the teacher is responsible for what the student learns. After all, it is the tongue which holds the power of life and death. When we claim to worship God yet follow our own doctrine, our own version of truth, and we instruct others in what ultimately is a lie, we render our supposed worship null and void. If the foundation of our faith is the Gospel, yet we preach a different gospel than that which is true, we establish ourselves on a different foundation and lead others to do the same. In doing so, we assume the role of the great teacher who established all truth and invite others to build their homes on us instead of him. That is a foundation that will give way when the winds blow and the waves crash, leaving those houses of worship in a pile of rubble.
Our teaching itself is just another act of worship, and the words we share with others indicate where that worship truly lies. This is one more area in which we must be vigilant to discern idolatry when it appears. When we instruct others in the word we must ask God to guide us in the proper revelation of scripture so that we are speaking in truth. Only then will we be helping others build on the proper foundation. Let those of us who occupy the office of teacher, who are charged with filling souls with life, devote ourselves to seeking out God’s truth. Let us take seriously the call that the Father has placed on us, knowing that we are responsible for the souls that we lead. Father, humble your teachers as they learn from you, that they would learn and teach that which is true, justifying that their worship is not offered in vain.