An upside of tradition

When it comes to traditions, Christians sometimes have mixed views.

On the one hand we can be suspicious of them. Fair enough. Over time people can elevate man-made traditions and give them an authority they should not have. In fact, Jesus warns against this in Mark 7:8: “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

On the other hand, if a tradition honours God and seeks to pass on biblical teaching, then it can be very good. This is what Paul envisions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

Let me share another thought about how the right kind of tradition can be positive.

A lot of people feel untethered. There is a lack of stability, structure, or even clarity in their lives. Perhaps it is because of the pandemic, our fast-paced society, or something personal they are struggling with.

Under it all is the rise of rabid individualism. Professor Charles Taylor says it has “wrenched us loose from all the settings that gave meaning to the lives of our forebears; we have been thrown back on our inner resources, but when we look within ourselves, we find emptiness because we have been cut adrift from everything that once supplied the resources we are seeking.”*

How true. Many people are wandering, adrift and untethered. By cutting themselves off from time-tested wisdom—and the traditions which passes it on—they are ripping their own roots out of the ground.

Tradition gives traction in the right direction. 

Weekly worship is a tradition. So are family devotionals. So is pondering the cross on Good Friday and celebrating the resurrection on Easter Sunday. So is saying grace before meals, waving palm branches, or putting up a nativity scene.

When we do these things, we are rooting ourselves in a larger story—no matter what we may or may not be feeling, and whether the world around us is chaotic or calm.

Tradition gives traction in the right direction.


–“Tradition or Traditionalism?” Sermon. April 2, 2023. Click here.

–*Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 142.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV. 

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