Tradition and Command

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

Matthew 15:1-3

The Pharisees were upset with the disciples for breaking tradition, but Jesus was upset with the Pharisees for breaking the command of God for the sake of their traditions. How often does the church break God’s command in order to follow our traditions?

Tradition itself isn’t bad. Tradition can help us keep a pattern of discipleship over time. It can help us to remember things we would otherwise forget. It can help us to hold fast to truth in the midst of changing culture. But if we’re not careful, it can also be used as an obedient-looking cover for our disobedience.

Do our church services have to look the way they do right now? Which part is us following God’s command and which is just us following tradition? Are there different ways to follow God’s command that don’t look like what we’re used to?

It is human nature to get comfortable and resist change. Change itself is uncomfortable. And with so much around us changing so quickly, more change just feels like chaos sometimes. But if we don’t stay open to change in the church, we can fall prey to one of the oldest tactics of the enemy. We can get fooled into thinking that holding to our tradition is the same as holding to God’s command. And over time, we can begin to use our tradition as a means to resist God’s commands.

Father, forgive us! Give us eyes to see and ears to hear where we’ve traded in obedience for tradition. Help us to have the willingness and humility to embrace change even when it’s uncomfortable! Thank you, Lord.

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