Tradition is “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.” They can be fun and good things; especially when enjoyed around holidays and special events. But when tradition becomes doctrine believed to have divine authority over the scripture even though it is not in the scriptures… Houston, we have a problem!!!
Every church has traditions. They are not necessarily bad things. These include how we baptize, who we baptize, what day we worship on. As well as how long we worship and which type of songs we sing. It can even mean how we dress and what church denominational name we call ourselves. And that’s just to name a few.
Sadly, people who are unfamiliar with our traditions visit our churches and encounter our members daily. They don’t know our traditions and when they visit they are unsure of what to expect, what to do, or what comes next. However, those of us who are familiar with our traditions religiously guard them. Here is an example of the damage that traditions can cause.
In Matthew 15, “The Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked Him, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus answered their question with another question. “Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”
Here are the important lessons Jesus wants us to learn and live.
- Truth trumps tradition. God’s word must never be subjected to man- made opinions or rules.
- Relationships trump tradition. Loving God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is the way to please God. It doesn’t come by outward actions, but God is pleased when our inner hearts are pure and in faith.
- Tradition builds fences. We then stand securely behind them so that our fences become defenses. Christians are in the business of tearing down fences to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.
- And finally, we must learn the lessons Jesus taught in Matthew 15 and commit to tearing down fences, and minimizing offenses that people receive as a result of our man-made extra actions in order to be pleasing to God.
God makes room for all of His children to be in His family regardless of extra activity or church traditions. We all must come to Him by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.