Contend Earnestly: Holding On Too Tight to Tradition

Friday, June 16, 2006

Holding On Too Tight to Tradition

I was asked this last week what I thought about “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” and if a Sabbath day was still in effect for us in the New Testament church. My first response was to see if the questioner understood what the Sabbath was meant for and even to the most rudimentary level, what day the Sabbath was actually on. After finding out that he understood the latter but not really the former I proceeded to quote Colossians 2:16,17

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's.

My thought is not to try and argue for why there isn’t a Sabbath’s day of rest anymore but the question from this gentleman was, “I have a friend whose church only meets on Wednesday nights, do you have an issue with this?” My first response being the good Southern Baptist that I am said, “Yeah, for some reason I do.” Then I told him I don’t know why it would bother me if I truly feel as though we as the New Testament church don’t follow under the rules that govern the Sabbath. Now, do I feel as though we should take a day out of our week for worshipping our Creator: of course. But tradition is the only reason we meet on Sunday. The apostles and the early church met every day, but especially on Sunday being that was the day of Christ’s resurrection.

What other traditions do we hold too tight of? I recently read on a church website that they don’t have Sunday school but have small groups on Sunday night instead. My first response? HERETICS! Wow, holding on too tight to tradition. What says we must have a time of gathering at 9am where we meet in our own age groups to learn more about the Bible? Nothing! But, I really do see the need and do love Sunday school but I have been too quick to judge when others have found other ways to minister to their congregation. We do have churches that hold so tight to their traditions that they would actually call it doctrine…ummm…oh yeah…the Roman Catholics. Way off target. Our only rule for judging whether something is of God or not is by His Holy Scriptures. We have Sunday school because we are told to edify the church, to long for the pure milk of the Word, to meditate on it day or night, to not turn to the right or left. So, Sunday school is another way to grow in our understanding of the Word of God. But Sunday school and other forms of worship that are loosely based on Bible should not become the blue print for how church is to be run while excluding all other forms of ministering to the body. So what if a church meets on Wednesday nights or has small groups on Sunday night or cancels Sunday school or has communion every week or every other week or once a month or has a worship band or just a pianist or a choir or uses the New International Version or the New American Standard or The King James Version. The question really comes down to this: Do you glorify God in all you do? Do you believe, truly believe, that it is by grace alone that you are saved and not by whether you only use The King James Version only or have Sunday school?

We really need to go back and understand what the reformers laid out for our focus: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Soli Deo Gloria (For the Glory of God Alone). Return to the roots of why we worship and gather together and understand, it isn’t the programs, it isn’t the time of day or actual day we worship, but WHO we worship and WHY we worship. May God always be shown glory in our worship services with all reverence and fear.


Timothy said...

"...churches that hold so tight to their traditions that they would actually call it doctrine…ummm…oh yeah…the Roman Catholics."

You might be interested to know that like the early NT Church, the Lord's Supper is celebrated daily in Catholic churches and chapels around the world. As a result, Catholics and all Christians have the opportunity to gather and hear the Word of God proclaimed.

I believe if you check your Reformation history, you'll find that Luther also celebrated the Lord's Supper daily as well. Ditto for the post-Reformation Church of England.

I'd be curious to learn why most post-Reformation Christian faiths ceased this wonderful daily practice.

There's nothing like starting your day with the Word and the Body.

Seth McBee said...

I completely agree with that thought. We went away from daily remembrance of the bread and the wine so that it wouldn't become "just another thing we did" like a habit. I don't think that has to do with the Supper itself or the frequency of it but of the person who doesn't take it seriously. Everything could become habit, whether it is daily or monthly. I have started to think of taking of the Supper more often so that can continue to keep Christ on the forefront of my mind through it.

Thanks for the thought on the subject.

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