<<custom, ritual>>

An inherited pattern of thought or action that has survived the test of time, linking us back to something our culture has valued in the past. ‘Things have always been done this way’ is an entrenched, set pattern of unquestioningly following procedures of the past (maybe even with no understanding how

Get to know the purpose and ‘inner meaning’ of your traditions to avoid sterility

they developed), yet this doesn’t necessarily make it right. Traditions often have their roots in the observance of significant events, however they are often progressively distorted over time. Ceremonies that once commemorated meaningful ‘life’ experiences, helping keep the memory alive, can revert to dead rituals and forms, devoid of enthusiasm and any resemblance to the original. Consequently, we should check out if the spiritual traditions we follow agree with Scripture; if there is a discrepancy adhere to truth in preference to tradition (Deut 18:9; Jn 17:17; Act 17:11; 1 Tim 4:7; 1 Pet 1:18). Although they may of themselves be neither right nor wrong, traditions can help or hinder, reinforce or mask, something of value.

The religious leaders in Christ’s day followed their own teachings ("the commandments of men"), while ignoring the commands of Scripture, consequently, the power of God was void and ineffective because of their slavish commitment to distorted traditions with their worship of God pointless (Mt 15:2-9; Mk 7:3-13). Do our Christian traditions agree with the Bible, or are they also warped? We must maintain a clear distinction between what is binding (God’s commands) and what is not binding (human tradition). Error comes when don't know what the Bible teaches (Mt 22:29).

Are we set in our religious traditions, expecting God to only work in specific ways?  Traditions should be helps to assist and not hindrances to our ongoing, deepening faith in Christ. It is the responsibility of those who know the genuine facts to accurately pass them on by explaining their significance so they affect and govern the lifestyle of future generations (Ex 12:24-27; Josh 4:6,7). Even our family traditions should be reviewed to gauge if they are still relevant or if they are just baggage from the past, meaningful then, but now an unnecessary hindrance. However, as we all have different values for observing special occasions, don’t let others force their views on you (Col 2:16).

The focus and emphasis of our practices should not be on any outward observance but on a heart response to Christ. In our worship, traditions and ceremonies can bring us closer to God, but don’t criticise those who do things differently to us, for the Bible doesn’t so much define how we should worship but who. The Bible warns us to be on our

Through tradition, the dimension of intimacy can be lost

guard so that no one leads us astray through the traditions of men and human reasoning, away from the truth that is only found in Christ (Col 2:8). Timothy was told to stay strong in the Word of God (2 Tim 4:2-5). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is God’s Word that is our weapon against Satan and the deceptions of this world (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). This is the weapon "It is written..." that Jesus used against Satan's attacks (Mt 4:1-11).

The NT traditions that were passed on had their beginnings in Christ’s teaching and the message was don’t associate with those who claim to know Christ but are not living by those principles for these are not human ideas or a distortion of the truth (Lk 1:2,4; Act 2:42; 1 Cor 11:2,23-26, 15:3; 2 Thes 2:15, 3:6; 2 Pet 1:16, 3:16).

Paul had been zealously dedicated to the religious traditions of his predecessors when God revealed Jesus to him, and his testimony was that he had abandoned them all, considering them worthless because he found the reality, the One whom the traditions had misrepresented (Gal 1:14; Phil 3:4-9).

See also: culture, habits, heritage, ritual.