Habits are insanely difficult to break, don’t you find?
From such minimal degrees as driving to Sonic every happy-hour, to as difficult as adultery. Habits hold fast. I suppose the lie we tell ourselves, time yet again, is “I will, eventually, fix it.” So many have said those laughable lies to themselves, to find some shrivel of peace. Yet, occasionally, our habits are those, which we have declared wholeheartedly, need no change or healing. I am talking about the habit of time, peer pressure, and things we have always done and held to. Perhaps it could be summarized as traditional habits.
I think particularly, in this occasion, of family. Have you noticed the bond with our inherited sin (if you will) that makes it so difficult to let go of? Perhaps it is a characteristic, manner, or way of life that our loved ones have held to. Those which we have inwardly decided, we ought never condemn. I come from a very close-knit family, one who I know holds close to God as best they can, and for that I am blessed and (I believe) exempt from this conversation. Yet, I ask myself, would I be willing to correct, rebuke, or even depart if need be? That seems an impossible task, because, using story-lingo here, there’s a lot of character development there.
There was a rather large family still that held to this sin. One who built up, prided themselves, and held on desperately to their former traditions, choices, and faults. It was the Jewish family. And Stephen addresses them in Acts 7, where he highlights their family history throughout the decades. He showed how continually God was faithful, and they, in return, not only abandoned Him, but killed those who questioned them. It is summarized in vs 51-52, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered…”
They had a family, tradition, and habit problem on their hands, and were unwilling to yield it. We, perhaps, claim such dilemmas would never hinder our thinking. We have convictions and faith, after all, and we would never stoop so low as this Israeli family. Yet, whether it be in the form of our family, our friends, our coworkers, or even our own traditional pride and choices, have we claimed that no matter what the truth be, we will never depart from the *fill in the blank* way of life? If so, where in this murderous family are we placed?
I don’t mean to be so cruel and flippant in my words. To be quite honest, often time we don’t view our decisions in such graphic of terms. But when we draw the line in the sand with God, as to His interference in our personal lives and traditions, what does that make of us? Frankly the Jewish men here didn’t view their choices as erroneous. They didn’t see their mistakes. They merely desired their own needs and normality met and undisturbed. And so, when given the chance to step from the familiarity of the heritage and habits presented to them, they rejected the notion, and literally murdered again. It is a tragic and heinous tale, but one that is equal for you and I when we declare that, since things have always been this way, and they surely have been this way for some good or personal gain, it can’t be wrong. When we state this, we rely on habit over a God of change. My challenge today is simply this; while perhaps leaving and approaching family/relationships (as well as our own habits) mightn’t be needed presently, never be so stuck in “the way things are,” that you would prefer them to God. Or, an even simpler decision, be willing to break the mold, if Christ so wills.