UNITY IN CHRIST: TRADITIONS

Tradition-Habit

(Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Psalm 150:1)

Traditions in our churches, some useful maybe some not so useful, but they will always be with us. Habits like having to sit in the same place, or on the same pew every week, and all of the other times we might attend. Believing there is only one way to pray and that hymns are the only songs acceptable in services are also some of the traditions we get used to, and just will never let go. Let us not forget, which is the correct Bible to read from? Not saying that any of this is right or wrong, but we will journey through some of our traditions or habits in today’s church, and see if there is a possibility that they could cause division in some way. If those very traditions that we have are destroying our Unity In Christ, then maybe they are not so great?

Beginnings

When Christianity had its beginnings, back in the first century AD, we can reasonably be sure the songs that were sung and scriptures that were studied and read then, were not quite the same as what we sing and read today. While the meaning of scripture should never change, we are all mainly reading some TRANSLATION of the original scriptures. There are almost 700 translations of the entire Bible and over 1,500 additional translations of the New Testament, yet there are those who will never read anything except for the King James Version (KJV). OK, this is fine, if the KJV is the translation that you happen to choose, and yes, you should have the option of that choice. However, should we try to force others to do the same, or ridicule others if they desire a different version?

Holding-On

Last week, I was viewing a sermon, where the pastor said that he was politely asked to leave a particular church, because he had chosen to read passages from a Bible translation other than the KJV. After-all, aren’t we all certain that the King James Version of the Bible is the version that Jesus carried? (smile) Believe it or not, there are some who will cling to this very assertion. To me, it makes more sense to read a translation that we can understand better, as opposed to a version of our language that we don’t really associate with any longer. Did folks really talk like that? While it may seem like formal speaking to many, might we be losing a number of readers, or followers if they are told this is the only true version? I still feel that the other translations are also sanctified by God, He only allows in what He chooses.

Since many of us are associated only with the formal version of the Bible, KJV, this has caused many to believe we can only pray when we use this same language. I have attended many services throughout my lifetime where someone gets up and prays in the King James fashion, (thee and thou, knowest). Some are great, but many may stumble with the formality of the language. Personally, I feel much more comfortable praying the way I normally talk. God understands all interpretations, also whether we are seated, standing, on our knees, laying down, head bowed with eyes closed or even gazing into the heavens. I could be wrong, but I do not believe God only receives prayer when we are in a specific position. I personally pray often while I am driving. (Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Please, let’s not get divided over how we pray.

Traditional and Contemporary styles of worship sometimes are associated with what types of music or songs are played and sung during our services. (Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Psalm 96: 1-2) Each church may have its own version of music, but again many have split, or had much division, over using traditional hymns, or deciding on a more contemporary Christian style. Not all, but a majority of predominately Black churches tend to lean toward gospel music, which, in some ways, has a style of its own. And then, there is Southern Gospel, which I totally admire, and love to hear. May I say, our Lord hears and rejoices when we worship with any type of song that glorifies Him?  As long as that message is saying what is pleasing to God, style should have no bearing. Songs we sing today were most likely not sung in the first century AD, some words could be the same, but style, I would assume, amazingly different.

Letting Go?

We have so many things trying to divide our churches, why don’t we take a look at some of our traditions, and while we may not make changes, can we try not to get so set-in-stone, always having to do things the same way? Take the handcuffs off and let the Holy Spirit flow freely. God has no problem with adapting style, as long as His message does not change. None of us are designed the same, each person is unique, and we respond to many different methods of teaching and understanding. If we choose to preach to others, that there is only one way to pray, one style of song, never wavering and never exploring the possibility of adapting our style, we may miss an entire segment of potential believers. Choosing to continue with tradition may be a great choice, but can we at least agree on Unity In Christ and decide we will not condemn others for being different?

Are some of your Traditions hindering or dividing the congregation?

What are your thoughts and feelings? Let’s chime-in!

Rev. M Silas Boyd