The greatest enemy the Church faces is the dictatorship of routine. When our behavior falls into a routine, we begin to die. If everything goes on as usual and nothing out of the ordinary happens, life becomes rigid and we lose sight of opportunities to do the work and will of God.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (Luke 1:5-20)
Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? (Isaiah 29:14-17)
How do you break out of the routine of life?
1. Take responsibility for your life.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that Zechariah was so deeply committed to a cultural, religious routine that he doubted the Word of God through Gabriel regarding the birth of his son, John the Baptist. We easily become like Zechariah, conditioned by our practices. We need to continually check the motives that dictate our life and break out of ungodly routines.
2. Discover God’s will in your life.
We are created to be different than the world. The Bible tells us that we are wonderfully made. Do not let other people control your life. Celebrate who you are; do not try to be somebody else.
For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-15)
3. Do something bold.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. (Luke 1:57-64)
Following the story of John the Baptist’s birth, Elizabeth made the bold choice to name her son John, going against tradition.
4. Believe that change is possible in your life.
The only thing that is constant in life is the presence of change. Break the tradition of religion where it hinders you from hearing God. We must change according to the season as we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. (Galatians 1:13-16)
Paul was caught up in his practice of persecuting Christians until God set him apart to become a great apostle for the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Learn to have faith and obey God.
Zechariah lost his ability to speak when he doubted God’s Word, but when the prophecy of John‘s birth was fulfilled through obedience and faith, he regained his speech. The births of John and Jesus defied nature. God did not follow tradition.