To be tethered to something means that one has boundaries beyond which he or she cannot freely go. This can be either good or bad. It is good that a mean dog is tethered by a chain that restricts his movement. If he were not tethered, then he would cause certain harm to others. But a good dog that has gone through obedience school is different. Tethering such a dog means that he cannot do his “dog thing” and be friendly to others.
People naturally want to touch or pet an obedient dog who knows his boundaries and sees himself as man’s best friend. But when a mean dog is untethered, he sees a person as an object upon whom he can release his aggression. People run from mean untethered dogs. They reach out their hands to pet a good dog who wishes to make every person his friend.
Not much changes in this illustration when we apply the analogy to people. Mean people are shunned. Those people who have gone through “obedience school” in their obedience to the gospel have voluntarily tethered themselves to Jesus. They are untethered from the ways of the world. They are free to let their gospel light shine before everyone because the source of their light is Jesus. They are thus free to think within the bounds of the gospel of freedom. People gravitate to gospel-obedient Christians who are untethered from the evil ways of the world.
On the other hand, those who are bound to the ways of the world are the roaring lions who are walking about in order to deceive the hearts of the innocent. They are looking for innocent souls who are free in Christ, and because they are free in Christ, they are free from the world. This freedom makes them the ideal target for roaring lions who are untethered from the truth of the gospel.
Untethered Christians must first learn how to walk in the freedom that they have in Christ. But at the same time, they must learn how to guard themselves from devouring lions. Some make the mistake of guarding themselves from being devoured by lions by tethering themselves to a legal religiosity by which they feel assured that they are have justified themselves before God through their law-keeping, and at the same time escaped the lures of a roaring lion. But what they have actually accomplished is untethering themselves from Christ in order to be tethered to religion. They find comfort in the traditions of their fathers and the heritage of their religion. They give up their freedom in Christ in order to self-sanctify themselves in the bondage of their own religiosity.
There is no freedom in being tethered to the traditions of the fathers. Being tethered to traditions, or one’s religious heritage, may bring a sense of security before God. The problem is that the mental tether is man-made, not gospel founded. And we know this. We know that our faith is based on subscribing to the traditions of the fathers, while we leave the gospel on the side. When the Son of God came into the world to reveal the gospel, it was His task to untether the Jews from the religion of their fathers in order to be tethered to Him. It was a daunting task.
At the time the Word was made flesh, an entire generations of people were tether to God through the religious traditions of their fathers Subsequently, there arose a great conflict between those of the religious heritage of the Jews and the Son of God. The Spirit-inspired records of the confrontation that the Word in the flesh had with those who sought to base their connection with God on the tether of their religious traditions was clearly defined by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
It took the Holy Spirit half of the writings of the New Testament in the four preceding books to explain the necessary paradigm shift that was necessary in order for one to shift from man-made religiosity to a gospel connection through Jesus. Such is our challenge today. We are diligent students of how Jesus taught how one could disconnect from the security of human religious traditions in order to connect to God through the Son of God. This is indeed a daunting task by which we walk by faith in the gospel of Jesus and not by our sight in the religious traditions of our father.
[Next in series, Dec. 4.]