Tradition—a nice global word that many people understand. Certain disciplines, routines, and cultural beliefs that our forefathers passed along. For this reason, thousands of years of long-standing ceremonies unite families. Creating bonds of warmth, closeness, and connection. Rites tend to offer a secure sense of belonging that make us feel special. Much like birthday celebrations, graduation parties, and seasonal fellowship during holidays.
Let’s glance, if you will, at a story where routine observances bring comforting aid for everyday survival. ‘Fiddler On The Roof,’ is a musical about a small borough set in Russia during a time when Jews were tormented by the government. Ancient, handed-down practices allowed the villagers to keep composure while living in a strange land as they faced turmoil, amid a rapidly changing world. “Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do” (J. Stein). Now, a good place for a pause. If you have a little extra time today, think about how often ‘daily rounds’ preserve sanity. I may be sitting alone on a limb here, but I need all the reminders and help I can get. Does it register with you too?
Along that vein, the Apostle Paul encouraged Thessalonian Christians to take a tight grip on what he had taught them. He didn’t want them slacking off, but to remember and practice their beliefs about truth and grace. In addition, he reminded them God would supply everything needed for a faithful journey “…because God chose you from the beginning for salvation…it was to this end that He called you…so then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions and instructions which you were taught by us, whether by our word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess 2:13-15 Amp).
But wait a minute. Just because rituals are needful and serve a useful purpose, doesn’t mean they are perfect. By no means. Nor, are they the final goal. If you recall, Jesus often criticized religious leaders and Pharisees for slavishly following ostentatious rules, making them more authoritative than the Scriptures (Matt 15:2, Mark 7:3). So, Christ doesn’t want mere performances of outward obedience only. Which, incidentally, cannot earn His love or acceptance. Rather, He came to replace hearts of stone with flesh, bringing internal freedom and newness of abundant life (Eze 36:26, John 10:10).
Finally, we know traditions aren’t wrong, even beneficial at times. It’s only when they become (too) important that we make idols of them. Instead, let’s adopt behaviors that will humble, melt hardnesses, and compel us—to draw so close we hear his heartbeat. Facedown, giving our all, completely surrendered “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all our soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV).
One last thought. My friend, are you presently enjoying your times alone with God? If not, what might you need to adjust so you experience more peace in his presence?
As my kids are nearing that ‘launching’ age, I am awed at the power of traditions instilled. Small things are big when they are repeated! A friend gave me a great quote…’Practice doesn’t make perfect but it does make a habit.’ I like that. We may be too quick to try the newest thing in our fast-paced world. I think of the OT reminder not to move the boundary stones. Nice reminder, thanks.