For the Sake of Tradition

“Bless this food to our bodies. Amen”

I grew up saying this prayer right before dinner. Luckily, punishment was mild if caught sneaking food before the prayer. That just meant you were the one who had to pray. (Which is a lot of pressure when you’re a kid, but nevertheless, no real harm done)

Millions probably say a similar type of prayer dinner. It’s tradition. Its just what you do, right? When I think about it, I pray that the greasy pizza is going to bless my body, but in reality, I know it really won’t. Less saturated fat please.  So I guess I’m not really praying, just acting out what I’ve been taught. And in this case, it’s harmless. But what’s scary is that this same human pattern can get us into big trouble. Tradition for traditions sake. “It’s just the way things are done.” Being completely blinded to truth…honoring tradition instead of the Lord.

Jesus’ warnings of keeping empty traditions are very real in the gospels. Over the past two days, these scriptures keep finding me. So here they are….

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of the pictures and cups, and many other such things you do. All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Mark 7:6-9

“Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” – Matt. 15:6

Yikes. I’m fine with saying grace before dinner, but today I’m very aware of the ease of mistaking our traditions for “God’s will”, and missing out on God’s will all along.

I can ‘t stop thinking about the Church today and wondering about her destiny. Not the institutional church buildings, but for the millions of people around the world on a journey, walking with Jesus. I believe we’re at another crossroads in our destiny, with a reformation looming. The first reformation was a revelation of God’s grace, not by works. The second reformation was discovering our identity as God’s son’s and daughters….that we could have a real, personal relationships with Jesus.

As many others are saying, this 3rd reformation is of practice…what we do as followers of Christ. Putting into action the Christ life on the earth. Being the “earthly image of the triune God.”

Tradition says hold onto the old ways of doing things, no matter what. It pretends that our religion actually works. It gets a certain counterfeit life from the whole thing.

But a new wineskin is forming. It’s organic in nature. It grows by the Spirit, not by human institutions. May we not miss what God is doing in this hour. It’s simpler than we think. It’s Jesus being our center, focus, point, and pursuit. Worship is the overflow. God sings over us first, and our lives sing back to Him. Community is grown from His presence. The broken and weary are invited in the family, and they actually want to stay. And it’s sustainable.

“The great difference between the present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these New Testament letters is that to us it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience.” J.B Phillips

This makes me jealous. This bothers me. This makes we want to purse God all the more. Not just alone, but with my covenant friends.

Who is your tribe? Your community? Who are you linking arms with, in pursuit up the Holy mountain of God? If you don’t have one, find one!  Don’t fall for the American temptation that your fine alone.