Passages - December 31, 2009
What's So Important About Tradition

By William R. Campbell
Associate Pastor
Mission Bible Fellowship
Seeley Lake

Most families have an assortment of traditions, formed over generations. As an example the father may always sit at the head of the table, or have a special reclining chair, or (my personal favorite) control over the TV remote, Christmas stockings hung by the fireplace, and thousands of others.
Christianity, like Judaism, is steeped in tradition. As a kid I remember asking my father why these were so important. (Not the stocking one–I fully got that one.)
My father did his best to explain, "It's so that we remember the past, our childhood, who we are, where we came from, what we believe." "But we know all that," I argued. "Why do we need to be reminded?" It wasn't till many years later, that I came to the understanding that It's what we do that truly demonstrates who we are, and what we believe." Faith, as the Apostle James put it, is demonstrated in action.
Of course it is possible to go too far with tradition. Jesus, for example, pointed out to the Pharisees that their traditions for carrying out the law were often counter to God's intent for the law.
Having said that, however, traditions play an important role in our faith. Just as the Passover reminded the Jews of God's grace and mercy in sparing their firstborn, it serves also to remind us of the "perfect Lamb of God" who redeemed all who believe.
So this New Year let us not rush to throw away tradition. Though the world tells us, "Try something new," or "Out with the old," or "You deserve a fresh start," we need remember that if we let too much of the past slip away it is soon lost to the next generation. We lose memories of those we love and have loved–little bits of our history.
That is why, I'm sure, God said in Deuteronomy 6, beginning in verse 5, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
If you make no other resolutions this year, resolve at least to pass on to those closest to you the most important thing in your life–those traditions that represent the core values of your life, what you believe, your faith.
The greatest legacy a Christian can leave is eternal life. "For what good will it do a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"

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