But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
Paul tells the church in Thessalonica to stand firm and hold on to the traditions they were taught by Paul and others and what they had read in Paul’s letters. What we can sometimes miss when reading this today is that when Paul says traditions he is referring to the teachings they received, the Gospel message. What Paul is not writing about is all the many traditions we have added since the New Testament was completed.
Try as I may I have not found anything in the Bible that dictates what color of carpet should be in the sanctuary, whether or not we stand of sit when we sing, have hands raised or by one’s side or how long a sermon should be and what type of music should be played or if music should be included at all. These things may make us feel comfortable and add to our experience in church but none of them are handed down by God. But how many times have we seen churches split apart over just such trivial issues. From the outside looking in it seems like we are more interested in traditions than in God’s work.
Tradition is just that tradition. It is something we have become comfortable with over the years. As long as our traditions do not conflict with what God has handed down to us in the Bible there is nothing wrong with them. The problem is when they begin to interfere with the work we are supposed to be doing for God. When traditions conflict with the sound doctrine we find in the Bible, the very traditions Paul is writing to the Thessalonians to hold firmly on to, those are traditions we need to let go.
All our manmade traditions need to take a back seat to getting the Gospel message out to the world. Traditions can be great things. They tie generations of believers together. They give us a feeling of belonging and comfort. Different traditions can appeal to a diverse population. I believe that is one reason God has allowed the church to split into the various denominations but these splits should be to bring others into God’s family not drive a wedge between the families. Bottom line is we are all one in God’s eyes. He has given us through Paul and the rest of the writers of the Bible all we need to get into a relationship with Him. Don’t let the side issues distract you.
Have a blessed day,
I will be on vacation next week. I hope all of you have a blessed thanksgiving.