Traditions vs. Traditionalisms

“How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” Galatians 4:9-10

Everything was once new and fresh, but when we start serving the “fresh and new” instead of God it loses its life and vitality. Hymns and liturgies that once brought light can become dark and heavy because people start serving them instead of serving God.

Seasons and holiday that were never ordained by God have become sacred cows that are served for their own sake. They are benign in their own right, but when they become non-negotiable gods on their own they drain the spiritual life from us.

And what will become of that which is fresh and new now; praise and worship choruses, video graphics, multi-sensory worship, seeker-sensitive services? It amazes how Christians who are obsessed with escaping one particular liturgy end up substituting it with one of their own making. We all know of contemporary (whatever that means) churches that rail against traditions and then establish a formula that they obsess over. The first song must have a particular groove and the second has to have a certain cultural flavor leading into a worship song and etc.

Having said that, here’s my caveat: don’t misunderstand and think that I’m against form and structure in worship. In my opinion, very few things dishonor God more than worship that meanders aimlessly, even if it finds God’s throne by accident.  Worship should be intentional.  Frankly, unintentional worship isn’t worship at all. It’s just a bunch of people hoping they find God rather than boldly gaining access to Him through Jesus His Son.

Worship starts to smell like death when we allow that formula of our own design to tighten its chains around us. God may have given us a template of worship for a season, but it was only for a season and a day, or even a season, is as one thousand years to God. Whether it’s the great hymns of generations past or the greatest new Passion or HillSongs tune, they only bring life while we continue to draw the breath of life throughthem not from them.

Solomon was right, “…there’s nothing new under the sun.” But, all things are new under the Son! Let’s keep them under the Son.  Let’s stay there ourselves.

We need to guard our hearts from traditionalisms that are the dead faith of the living and hold to God’s traditions that are the living faith of the dead and resurrected.

Lord, don’t ever let me become so attached to a thing, style, song, presentation, idea or vision that I substitute it for You.

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