I like to find the good in everything. If I can’t find good, I look for potential to be good.
As I focused on tradition the last few weeks, I wearied of my own negative thoughts about it. It seemed I was thinking in circles and never arriving at a good solution.
Then this week, a new thought entered the circle.
I know that traditions can be good, and are even impossible to live without. They’re like group habits. We will have them, whether they’re helpful or not.
I know this, and yet, it was difficult to imagine a practical way to change my view of them.
The new thought was this:
We’ve created a box for traditions, just as we often create a box for God.
I believe the power and life of Christ can transform the habits and life of the most degenerate sinner. So why can’t I believe that He can transform the habits and life of His precious Church? And since He knows we will always live by some traditions, as humans, why wouldn’t He use those traditions to do His work?
I believe that if we accept the place of traditions in our lives and let them become what they are meant to be, we will become much more than a group of people who look and behave a certain way so we can maintain a safe structure for future generations.
By this I mean let traditions guide our spiritual lives as well as our physical lives. Having a tradition of modest dress has little value if we have no tradition of modesty of spirit(Matthew 15:8). We need both.
What if we built our spiritual traditions straight from the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles?
What if it was traditional…
- to frequently invite homeless and needy people into our homes? Luke 14:12-14
- to encourage each church member to develop their spiritual gift? 1 Cor. 1:7; 2:12
- to lovingly rebuke each other of the works of the flesh? Gal. 5:13, 19
- to freely forgive each other’s faults, rather than slandering them? Gal. 4:31-32
- to discourage anxiety among church members? Phil. 4:6
- to speak evil of no man? James 3:9-12
The list could go on and on. None of these commands are easy. We have all formed habits that block us from fulfilling them as we ought.
If most people around us within the Church lived this way, we would view it as normal, yes? Just as, within the conservative Mennonite Church, we see it as normal when a woman sews her own cape dresses and covers her head.
We must admit that Jesus is calling us to much more than a way of dress.
So how can we get to the place where our physical traditions become secondary because our spiritual traditions are so alive?
If we want to pass on a worthwhile tradition (as a lifestyle) we must break down the old, fleshly habits and build new, spiritual habits on the foundation of Christ. And though we must do it as one, it will begin with each individual. With me. With you.
How do you think we can grow good spiritual traditions? What would you add to the list of spiritual traditions you think we should build?