I sometimes come across people who don't like certain church rules, practices or customs. Such persons voice their displeasure over such rules, practices or customs, and some even leave the church to join another Christian denomination, or even join some other faith entirely. This is because such persons expect rules, practices and customs to suit their purposes, or for their benefit. But what such persons fail to realise is that God's commandments, as well as Jesus' commandments of loving God and neighbour, are the basis for such rules and practices, whereas customs are traditional and widely accepted ways of behaving or doing something in the church community. Such rules, practices and customs did not materialise overnight, and they are meant for the good of the entire Christian community, not just for the good of a few.
In today's reading, we see an example of a person who did not like certain rules, practices or customs among the Israelites. That person was Jeroboam who thought to himself, ‘As things are, the kingdom will revert to the House of David. If this people continues to go up to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, the people’s heart will turn back again to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will put me to death.’ And so, Jeroboam did the unthinkable. He created his own gods, by making two golden calves; he got the people to worship such false gods; "He set up the temple of the high places and appointed priests from ordinary families, who were not of the sons of Levi"; and even dared to "institute a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth of the month, like the feast that was kept in Judah." Jeroboam did all these repugnant things, just because he did not like certain rules, practices or customs among the Israelites, and he wanted to save his own skin. As a result, "such conduct made the House of Jeroboam a sinful House, and caused its ruin and extinction from the face of the earth."
What about us? Would we change certain church rules, practices or customs as we please, just because they are inconvenient to us or we feel uncomfortable towards them? Is faith like changing clothes, where we discard things which we are unable to accept? May we continue to be faithful, and walk in God's ways.