Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tradition Is A Cult

The title of this post came from a man I respect fully and have gone to with many problems I am wrestling with--my father-in-law, Bob Marshall. I am wrestling with this thing called tradition right now. To be honest, I've been wrestling with it for the last 8 years or more. I grew up in a Lutheran church and tradition is what it was built upon. We stood when we were told to stand, we knelt when we were told to kneel, we spoke when we were told to speak. You get the idea. The organ took up half the church and banners, robes, and pews identified this church. By about my freshman year in high school, some of these things didn't make sense to me and bored the crap out of me. I looked for something different and found it in a little church down the road from where I lived. Little did I know then, I wasn't much further from tradition as close-minded thinking, comfortability, and power-driven elders defined them.

I'm sure we've all seen tradition in one form or another in churches around us. If you're like me (and I'm not saying you are), these churches probably make you shudder and run the other direction. After talking to Bob Marshall some more, he told me, "People's faith lie in tradition." Of course this upsets me because I know it's true. I know that people's faith SHOULD lie in Christ alone. Isn't that what Christ would want from us?

Now I have been known to "rock the boat" from time to time. If there is one thing I can't's tradition. The problem the Pharisees had was their tradition. Their faith was soaked in it. When Jesus came along and rocked the boat, they fought with a vengeance to defend their "faith." Bob explained further, "If you rock people's tradition, you rock their faith." It's too bad it comes to that. I hate that it comes to that. When I meet people who are Pharisaic in thinking, I want to just slap them and tell them to grow up. Nonetheless, I think I need to turn the slapping hand back toward myself.

I find myself putting my own tradition in non-tradition. All of a sudden, if someone wants me to change the way I think about things, I will defend it with all my life. I guess I'm more of a Pharisee than I thought at times. The real challenge is to find the balance. I'm not talking about a blended thinking, but a balanced thinking. Jesus didn't come to establish a new religion. He came to establish a new thinking about religion. He didn't want people's faith to lie in tradition. He wanted their faith to lie in Him. When we're doing this, we find it's no longer about what we want. It makes things a lot easier. If a church is going to try to reach people for Christ, they need to put themselves aside--along with their traditions--and put Christ in front--along with His teachings. Jesus never wanted us to be traditionalists or non-traditionalists. He wanted us to be Christ-followers.