Mark 7:8-9 – For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Traditions are repeated patterns of behaviour that have been developed over time. These habits are developed and become traditions. Traditions are things handed down from past generations are usually embedded in our culture and have strong ties in families, government and society. Traditions and culture become a part of us but then must be censored to ensure it doesn’t contradict the word of God.
Jesus gave a response to the accusations of Pharisees and other teachers of the law of not following the traditions of the elders. This conversation ensued because the teachers of the law with strong traditional beliefs of the ceremonial way of hand washing saw an aberration from the norm from Jesus’ disciples. What this means is they saw a change different from what they had been taught from past generations.
The Pharisees would rather discard the word of God in order to hold on strong to their traditions. They were quick to conclude the disciples must be wrong and they right. The challenge is they held on strong to traditions that made them narrow minded.
Please realize that a different way of doing things doesn’t always mean its heretic. Doing things differently without going against the word of God shouldn’t enrage us as believers. Many Christians bow their heads in prayers; just because the next person doesn’t bow his head does not mean he has erred. We shouldn’t necessary make a standard a way of doing things. The traditions of men could obtain both in the society and the church. A traditional belief of the church is that if you did all the right things, performing all the necessary rituals, you were clean. The scripture however says we should render our hearts and not garment. Please realize God’s will before the foundation of the world has always been a relationship with man. When we couldn’t yet understand grace, He took us on a journey of learning through physical things of the shadow in the old before the spiritual was revealed in Christ. Paul warns us in Galatians not to be entangled with the yoke of bondage. We shouldn’t indulge in traditions that make the word of God in effective. Friends, as a child of God, whatever you do will be seen by men. The question is will these beliefs you hold on strong to cause people to give glory to God? If there is a tradition to disrespect people because of gender or race, this is not in line with the word of God because there is no difference in the spirit. There is no place in God’s word for discrimination. The scriptures say we have one Lord, one faith, One God and father of all.
Culture is from the Latin word ‘cultura’ which means to cultivate. Culture is a set of ideas, beliefs, pattern of behaviour and way of life that makes a community different from the next. Culture consists of features that describe a society at a given time.
How many times have you made a conclusion in your mind because you are from a different cultural back ground? One of the things we must avoid is making assumptions and conclusions based on our opinion of people. For example, there is black magic in Africa; it however doesn’t mean all Africans practice black magic.
There is the American culture, English culture, African culture, Asian culture and the likes. The way we comport ourselves in relation to the different cultures would be critical. Imagine if an English missionary in a remote African village insisted all who came to the church dressed in a suit and tie? What the preacher perhaps wants to pass across is for the congregation to dress formally and smartly, we however need to engage the culture of where we are. We are called to observe culture and make decisions about the proper action and reaction to it. We as believers need discernment in reaching out to people of different cultures.
Acts 17:23 – 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
Paul on his missionary journey to Athens where there was a culture of idolatry wasn’t discouraged but found a way to reach them. He gathered information on what they worship and how they worshiped. Through his detailed observation by the help of the Holy Spirit, he was able to discern they desired to worship even though they didn’t know who to worship because the worshiped an unknown God. He through their culture of worshipping something aligned their focus to worshipping the true and living God.
Our role as Christians is to ensure we are able to relate and still reach people irrespective of our cultural differences. We need to have a change of mind about the way we view things. One of those things is the spiritual-circular divide. All life is spiritual. We need to know we are the same people when we are at work and in church. We sometimes feel there has to be an adjustment of our character on Sundays as against other days. This shouldn’t be the case. You are a spiritual being. In the same vein, the Word of God needs to be our guide in regards to our Christian walk amidst the traditions and the cultural context we find ourselves in.
For Further Study
Questions for you to reflect on
- What traditions in your life do you old highly?
- How Godly are they?
My traditions and culture will not imprison me.