“The Tradition Condition”

It is the time of the year when traditions are paramount in the lives of people all over the world. Christmas is full of those moments in time that you just KNOW are going to happen year after year.

When I was a kid, I can remember my dad getting home from work on Christmas Eve, us loading up the car or truck and heading to Henderson, TX to my Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house where we would stay and where I would wake up to Santa’s deliveries.

Traditions are the little moments and the big moments that we look forward to and count on.

Traditions are those moments of stability when everything can be normal even when the world is not.

We love our traditions. We count on them. We worship them.

WAIT. WHAT? We don’t worship our traditions! WELL….

Traditions can easily become idols in our lives if we allow it.

Idolatry is a major theme in the Bible. Idolatry shows up in the first 2 of the 10 commandments. FIRST 2! Must be important. Idolatry challenges God’s sovereignty in our lives and attempt to give us our own way.

Tim Keller states in his book Counterfeit Gods, an idol is “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give.”

Traditions become idols when we count on them more than we count on God and that happens so often especially during Christmastime. We shop, we watch movies, we bake, we go to church, we light candles, we look at lights, we gather with family, we give and get gifts and the list goes on and on.

We fill our time with so many traditions all in the name of Christmas that we sometimes, if we aren’t careful, forget the purpose behind all of the traditions.

As followers of Jesus, He is the purpose of Christmas and ultimately the purpose of the traditions. The traditions don’t replace Him – they point to Him. The traditions don’t overshadow Him – they remind of us of Him.

Often in our lives – my life – the traditions actually overtake the reason for the traditions and when that happens we – I – become very much like a Pharisee.

Many of the Pharisees I am sure at some point were well-meaning in their religion and traditions, but they became so chained to their traditions that it blocked their view of God even when He was standing right in front of them. They would not – could not budge off of their traditions to see the real meaning of the traditions in the first place. They had replaced the spirit of the law with the traditions of the law. They had become more about keeping traditions than allowing their heart to be impacted by the traditions. When their traditions were challenged to change, they bucked as hard as they could and dug their heels in and held on to what they knew and missed Who they could have known.

My prayer is this Christmas week, that I am not like that. I don’t want to have a limited perspective which is all a human tradition can offer me. I want to see Jesus.

Maybe God is using 2020 – the pandemic – the rise in Covid cases – the general craziness – as a chance for us to REFOCUS on Him in a different and more “on purpose” way this year. I pray I don’t miss it because of my “tradition condition.”

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