Matthew 15:1-9

“Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

A phrase in physics goes thus ‘an object would remain in a static position unless a force is applied.’ change is not change until you change. We will be exploring the effect of our traditions and culture on the effectiveness of the principles of Christ in our lives. Change is one of the major constants in life and tradition is one major deterrent to change.

What is tradition/custom? An inherited pattern of thought or action. It is a specific practice that is long standing in nature. Culture is created as a result of traditions. Traditions birth culture and culture drives society. Culture is simply what is acceptable or unacceptable in a society. For example in a culture where women leadership is frowned at, it would be practically impossible for a woman to be the president or CEO of a company. In other words a woman has little or no chance to lead and make impact in decision making in this cultural context. This would rob women of maximising their potential and restrict the growth and enhancement that such women could bring to the particular society. When Jesus showed the disciples in Matthew 6 how to pray among other things, he said ‘Let thy kingdom come on earth‘ meaning let your culture invade my culture. He was instructing his disciples to desire and ask for heavenly culture to replace their earthly culture. To be a culture architect, you must be willing to embrace change. You are created to be an agent of change but no change is change until you change. Until you change within, you cannot change without. In the days of Jesus, the culture was based on the traditions of the elders. The elders decided how the law of God was to be interpreted. Their interpretation came out of convenience not out of obedience to God. And as a result they made the word of God of no effect. Regardless of how many promises you quote from scripture, if you don’t change some die hard way of life and system of thinking, the word of God will be ineffective in your life. Traditions create culture and culture drives society. Through our traditions we tell people our core values.

Our traditions determine the change we will accept or reject. That is why Jesus preached repentance (change of mind) because if you can change a man’s mind set, you can change his values/tradition and revolutionize his culture. People are custodians of culture, good or bad. The culture you live and align with affects your belief system.

For example because people in the hometown of Christ Jesus have a particular way they thought of and saw Him (traditional view), they could not receive or benefit from His ministry as their messiah, therefore He could do no mighty works. This implies that their traditional way of seeing Jesus as the son of a carpenter and refusal to adjust their views made it impossible for them to see and receive Him as their Christ (the anointed one- burden remover and yoke destroyer).

My question is what are your core values and do they align with the principles of Christ? What things did you do merely because your mother and father did and not because it helps you achieve your God given goals and assignment? Friend, traditions have the power to make the word of God effective or ineffective depending on where you place it in relation to the word of God. Please be aware that not all traditions are bad and destructive to the ways of Christ. Note, not all religious traditions and belief systems are scriptural and any tradition that is unscriptural should not be allowed to stand in the way of obedience to scripture.

For Further Study

Matthew 13:54-58, John 6:42

Questions for you to reflect on

  • What are your core values?
  • Do they line up with your cultural context?
  • Does your culture align with the word of God?
  • Which of your traditions or way of life do you need to change in order to make the word of God effective?

Personal Declaration

Lord let thy kingdom come in my life. Let your culture invade my culture.