God and Tradition

Traditions serve as glue to honor value.

I think of the wonderful traditions that pay homage to the things we value.

The tradition of a birthday cake—with candles ablaze—honors a life. The tradition of a family vacation says uninterrupted time with family is important. The tradition of family meal time declares the importance of growing the family bond.

Good traditions can serve churches like a familiar peg on which to hang a coat.

My childhood church had an opening prayer, three songs, another prayer, communion, a fourth song, a sermon, announcements, and a closing prayer. Following the three-minute per item rule learned in Training Class for Boys (only), if the preacher would control his sermon, we could beat the Baptists to the Sunday cafeteria lines.

churchTradition is not a bad word. I will forever be grateful for all I learned within the structure of a Sunday church tradition. Without good traditions to follow, life would lack focus. Families, churches, school, government, and sports all need tradition. I too need tradition to grow.

God sets holy traditions for His people.

Instituted by God, holy tradition illustrates truth or reminds us of an act of God. Baptism is a God-given tradition to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and by imitation; I surrender my life to Him. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is from Jesus so I will never forget that He gave His body and Blood as a sacrifice for me.

Holy traditions come from God.

phariseeHowever, there is a cautious side of tradition. Jesus consistently condemned the use of traditions that obscured God from lost people.

Traditions practiced by me run the risk of my elevating what is helpful to me into a God command for others. My traditions can hide God from those who seek Him. I am not God, so I don’t make good law.

We must be careful in daily life and in our churches to examine our practice to distinguish between a command from God and a demand from fellow worshipers.

I might find that I can lighten up on a fellow Christ-follower when I discover that what I always believed to be a doctrine of God is only a good tradition to help me in my obedience.

Let’s enjoy good traditions while remembering they always stand in second place when it comes to following Jesus and obeying the commands of God.

Stay tuned. – Gary J. Sorrells

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