The Need for Traditions

This last Sunday I preached a sermon from Deuteronomy 11 entitled “The Need for Traditions.” With the feedback from Sunday and the short amount of time we had to delve into this subject I thought it worth while to continue the topic here on my blog for the next few weeks. 

As mentioned Sunday, it is worth noting the topic of Traditions – especially from a text like Deuteronomy 11 – that we are focusing on a valid application of the text, but certainly not the only application. The danger in this approach is that we can miss the point of the text if we are not careful due to our emphasis on a certain application. But the overwhelming neglect, distaste, and misunderstanding of traditions within the American Christian Community warrants walking this razor’s edge to reap the benefits. 

After Sunday’s sermon someone noted that only one of the traditions I mentioned in the Bible is still observed today. I mentioned Passover, the Festival of Booths, the Lord’s Supper and Timothy’s rearing by Lois, Eunice and Paul. This person had in view the Lord’s Supper. My reply? Not exactly. Traditions include daily and weekly events like bible study, family time, Sunday worship, meal prayer times from one side of the spectrum to annual events such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. 

The overall impact of a tradition is that it informs. Traditions abound, identified or anonymous, and we would do well to reconsidered what we have allowed to permeate our lives, both on profane days as well as holy days. This aspect of informing tells us why discussing traditions is so important. If our traditions are fanciful and without meaning then what are we teaching ourselves? What are we telling others about our life? What are we conveying to God about what we think of him and his place in our life? This is what we will seek to answer in the next few days. There are at least sixteen accomplishments that a tradition from a biblical worldview should accomplish as it seeks to inform. We will cover these the next few days. 

In closing, for those who were not privy to our Sunday sermon, I want to point you to where our sermon began – that traditions are first primarily for you. While they have a use for the generations to follow, their intent is first to remind and teach you. Deuteronomy 11:1-2, 18  says: 

“You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. 2 And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, 18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 

Please notice to whom God is directly addressing and to whom he is indirectly addressing. God is directly addressing adults. When he says in verse 1 “your” he distinguishes this from a group found in verse 2 – that group is “your children”, hence “I am not speaking to your children.” Verse 18 confirms this emphasis by emphasizing the word “you”. God’s words are to be impressed upon your heart and your soul then by implication they will be impressed upon your children’s hearts and souls. I believe the reason God put this text together this way is because our tendencies when it comes to traditions are to throw them into the category of child-rearing. In other words, we think that if we aren’t in the process of raising children within our home then we don’t need them. This mindset misses the value, point and use of traditions. Indeed, we all would be better off when it comes to traditions if we had the mindset of a child. We must remember that we need God to constantly teach us and then re-teach us, we need him to remind us and the re-remind us. If we are to move forward we must learn the lessons from yesterday and yesteryear. History shows that we, as a people, think we know it all when, in fact, we forget many things.

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