Today’s quote comes from Mark Beeson in a message he preached a couple of weeks back. As he was talking about tradition, he said:
“We should honor tradition, but we should not let it enslave us.”
Over the 20 years that I have been in ministry, it has been kind of fun (and sad) to see the different things that churches hold as important and take priority in their ministries.
- I have visited churches where the ladies ministries were the most important thing going on, and they pretty much ran the church.
- I have been in churches where the calendar was placed as a priority. You know how that one goes, “We always have such and such on this week EVERY year… that cannot change! God only does revival on these days every year”
- I have relatives that have kitchens in their churches that cannot be touched or walked into unless you are on the list or you get approval by the three 80-year old ladies that run said kitchen in the church (The interview process for that on is harder than what you go through to be CEO a fortune 500 company!)
- I have led worship and had individuals refuse to sing anything that they could not open a book to or that was newer than like 1950. (Of course, that all changed if it was Bill Gaither, Squire Parsons or just happened to be a song they were singing for church.)
Most of the things that I have heard people complain or fight about in the church are these things. They have let tradition enslave them. They have allowed their preferences of how and when to do things overshadow the reason for doing those things. Really, what they have done is decided to worship tradition instead of God.
“That seems like a pretty tough statement Jason.”
Maybe, but here is the deal, there are people that will give their life to protect a tradition in the church, but will not give 10 minutes in the office to listen to someone who is hurting, or to walk across the lawn to invite a neighbor to church with them. They have completely lost the fact that being a Christian is all about relationships, not running a social club that people meet at once a week. Being part of a church is NOT about those that are “in” it. It is completely about the mission God gave to reach this world.
If we can use some traditions to do that, I say great! If a tradition gets in the way of that, it is time to let it go.
This all reminds me of something that the first pastor I worked for said to me, “Tradition is good, if it is good tradition.”
Is there any tradition that is enslaving you? How do we break free of that?