Monday, April 20, 2009


Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your traditions?"

Matthew 15:3(NIV)

(Jesus speaking to Pharisees and teachers because His disciples didn't wash their hands before they ate. Further reading go to Matt. 15:1-20)

Holidays are a great time that many families have annual traditions? Dinner at grandma's, opening presents christmas morning, the reading of "The night before Christmas" or the real Christmas story of Jesus' birth. Maybe the hanging of stockings, or mom making her famous pies?

I'm not sure what traditions you or your family participate in or perform during the holidays. But traditions can be a great part of family or memories. Traditions, however, can also be a negative thing when it comes to our faith. The problem with any tradition in a church is that at some point people begin mistaking and making those traditions gospel, doctrinal, or neccessities.

I find it interesting that the word tradition comes from the Latin traditionem, acc. of traditio which means "a giving up, delivering up, surrendering" (source: wikipedia). In today's culture tradition is more of a custom or practice. What I find interesting is the original intent of the word means "giving up" or "surrending" something and that's the last thing most people want to do when it comes to "traditions".

Having grandpa's famous fudge every year at Christmas is a great tradition and no harm in having it every year as long as grandpa wants to keep making it, but to take a practice or custom at your church that becomes a tradition and force people to never give it up or split the church if leadership ends it, is not biblical or spiritually mature or wise.

Sometimes traditions run their course. Sometimes traditions work great for awhile, but become boring, ineffective, or stagnant. Sometimes traditions were great for one generation, but not for the next. We live in an ever changing world and culture and the church must change with it while keeping the message of Jesus unchanging. There have been many styles of automobiles over the years, but it's still an automobile. The main object doesn't change, only the method or style.

There are certain traditions in church I enjoy or love, but to bind traditions on people because I like it or enjoy it is both wrong and selfish. I'm for traditions in church for as long as they are effective, relevant, and positive. But, I'm also for ending "traditions" and beginning new ones when old ones stop working, growing, or being positive. The church is bigger than one person.

I know I write to many different types of people. Young and old, old school and new school, legalistic and progressive, christian and non-christian, and raised in church and not raised in church. I know the things I share are only my thoughts and opinions, but I hope in some way I can challenge your thinking today and help us all realize that sometimes we all can hold back the church and message of Jesus with our stubbornness, narrow-mindedness, and selfishness whether it's intentional or not, we can all be guilty of it.

I think something that will help us all is for us to know the difference between a tradition and a biblical command. To know the difference between essential doctrines and non-essential traditions. To enjoy traditions while they last, but when they've ran their course, support and enjoy new traditions that our church may try to incorporate or begin. Don't become so attached to a tradition that it becomes gospel, because our traditions may change over time, but the gospel never does.

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