Jump Start # 3139
Mark 7:9 “He was also saying to them, ‘You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.’”
The Pharisees had a problem that many folks do today. They got what is important mixed up with what is not important. Our verse is part of the Lord’s explanation and defense when His disciples were accused of eating with impure hands because they had not properly washed them, according to the traditions of the elders. Violating the tradition was considered the same as violating God’s law, to these Pharisees.
In expressing the truth on these things, Jesus revealed that their hearts were far from God. Their reverence was merely a show. It was all external. The showroom looked great, but there was nothing in the warehouse. They were neglecting the commands of God in order to keep their traditions. The Lord would later in this context say that they were “invalidating the word of God.”
Traditions—some are so bothered by traditions that they run past Jerusalem and are willing to dance with the devil in worship that is not Biblical nor authorized by God. The word “tradition” is a bitter taste to so many. Some want worship to be free from tradition and to accomplish that, there is no rhyme or reason. No one is sure what will happen. Spontaneous, ever changing, evolving, fluid—that’s the notion that drives the engine of many these days.
First, tradition is nothing more than a way to do something. We have traditions in our homes when it comes to holidays and birthdays. Tradition brings a level of comfort, knowing what will happen and what is expected can be a good thing. Many who are breaking free from traditions, have a new tradition—it’s called “different.” In trying to be “nontraditional” they have simply replaced one tradition for another.
Second, what some call traditions are not traditions, but rather, what God wants and expects. Singing acappela, while seemingly a tradition, is what one finds in the N.T. The church sang. Those that want to call it simply a tradition, have no problem introducing the rock band concept. Where they fail in their thinking is understanding the difference between what is important and what is not important. Meeting on Sundays, having the Lord’s Supper, engaging in preaching and praying is not a man thought up tradition. It’s what we find in the Scriptures. There are traditions connected to our worship. But not everything in worship is a tradition.
Third, some are so wedded to traditions that it really bothers them to make any adjustments or changes. Coming out of the pandemic, many congregations restructured when and what they would do during worship. Changes came about. That bothered some. Jesus busted many traditions but Jesus never sinned. When we cannot change a tradition, even though it would beneficial and more helpful, we need to pause and take a long look at what we are following.
Fourth, some want to change traditions just for the sake of changing them. Someone once said, “do not take down a fence until you know why it was put up in the first place.” We need to realize what worked in our parents or grandparents generation, may not work today. How often we meet, how we conduct worship, whether or not we have special studies throughout the year, even the methods of teaching the Bible are things that need to be looked at. Maybe podcasts, blogs and videos are a more effective way of teaching these days. However, if some traditions are working and people are encouraged and growing, why change them? Don’t change just for the sake of change. Change if a better way can be helpful.
Finally, the traditions in one congregation may not work in another congregation. We must not follow the leader but look among ourselves and see what our needs are. For a younger congregation, maybe meeting more often and having more classes is the best route to go. For more mature Christians, it may be not meeting as often but offering more depth in classes.
“We’ve always done it this way,” or, “We’ve never done it that way before,” must not be the voices that determine what should be done. Search the Scriptures and make sure it’s Biblical first. Then, see what works best for the congregation. What others are doing may not be the best for where you are. Know the condition of your flock and what their needs are.
Traditions—they are not so bad if you understand their proper place.