Seems harmless enough, these traditions we have adapted. The problem comes when the purpose is lost and they therefore become strictly habit with little to no meaning (and whatever meaning it has is usually attached to, "that's just the way it's always been").
Tradition can be yoked to its brother comfort. Isn't that why we keep doing something and forming a tradition? Because it's what makes us comfortable? If we always do the same things, we never have to leave our comfort zone.
Both of these brothers are dangerous and rampant in the Church.
I was raised in the denomination of the church of Christ and still attend a congregation that follows that doctrine. However, I do not consider myself a member of the church of Christ. I am a member of the body of Christ.
All denominations are are man-made interpretations and legalisms that form certain traditions, and sadly, eventually often begin to label them as truth. One church was established. Over time, we have corrupted that beautiful setup with our own perceptions and comforts, separating from and judging others who don't fit into the cookie cutter religion we have molded for ourselves.
I'm not saying that I think denominations are a bad idea. It is actually a great way for people to be able to worship and be most effective in the areas of their strengths. The trouble comes when we get the idea in our minds that our denomination is the only one who's got it together, the only one who's got it right. Here's a newsflash--none of us do.
So often we as Christians get caught up arguing about a specific word's meaning in a verse, or what communion is and how it should be administered, or what order the service should be in, or how many services we should have, or blah blah blah. Why does it matter?
A good friend of mine said something in a conversation we had a while back and it pricked my heart and stayed there...
"The unchurched are not conservative."
Isn't that the truth? People who were not raised in our denominational traditions do not give a flying pancake's care about them.
And isn't that to whom we are supposed to be ministering? Our job on this earth is to spread the love of Jesus, which in turn will lead people to eternal salvation. It isn't about building renovations, or dress code, or committees, or clapping/hand raising (is it ok or is it not...), or if I'm right and you're wrong or vice versa, or..., or..., or... (fill in any congregation's current or continual battle of choice).
Our traditions have blinded us to what really matters--sharing the love of Jesus. All of us. Men and women, young and old. Be ministers of your faith. Let your life be the proof of His love.
And that will require getting out of our comfort zones.
Stop judging people. It's not our place. They don't have to be like you to be saved.
Serve. Believe. Love.
Below is a link to a blog written by an incredibly wise and well-knowledged man whom I hold in high respect, Patrick Mead. The link leads to one of his entries that discusses this topic more deeply and more eloquently. I strongly encourage you to read it (and follow the blog in the future).
"It seems that most of these tribes (and I am making a judgment here which may not be accurate, but it fits with my experience so far) are far more likely to accept someone whose ritual is right but whose heart is wrong than vice versa.
For example, in my tribe, Mother Teresa would be considered lost because she was not immersed, called men “Father” on earth, and a dozen other ritualistic “errors.” At the same time, they will often call another person brother or sister because their ritual is perfect and Biblical even though they are unkind to their neighbors, unsacrificial in giving, known to complain and whine, and hoarding possessions. Ritual trumps relationship and the heart in most religious tribes, turning them into modern day versions of cargo cults."