Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tradition or Traditionalism?

I read this the other day but don't know its origin:  tradition is the living religion of the dead; traditionalism is the dead religion of the living.

You find traditionalism among the people for whom religion is more important than relationship, where the religion itself has become the idol of their hearts.  Jesus encountered these people a lot in the group of the Pharisees.  Their lives revolved around the sheer determination of keeping the law.  As long as their outside acts conformed with the rules they deemed important, they considered themselves righteous.

So much is wrong with that approach to God.  First, outside acts are not His primary concern.  If you've heard me teach before, you've probably heard me say that God doesn't want us to obey but transform us into the kinds of people who normally obey.  The issue is the human heart, always targeted by God and those who truly speak for Him.

Second, who gave them (or me or you) the authority to decide which rules were important?  God is holy and just, He alone being qualified to judge what is right and wrong, good and evil.  All of His instruction is important, because it rejoices the heart and restores the soul (Ps. 19).

Last, we might consider ourselves righteous because of our acts, but we don't get the last word on that judgment.  God does.  And the righteousness He's concerned about is His standard of righteousness - the supreme value of the supremely valuable.  We must receive this righteousness from a source alien to us and can through confidence in Jesus Christ.

More on tradition tomorrow.  It's not as bad as some have made it out to be.

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