Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Are Traditions Important?

Recently Prince William and Kate were blessed with a little baby boy. This gift demanded that they give him a name. But one name would not do! It had to be at least three or four! His father was named William Arthur Philip Louis and the grandfather, Charles Philip Arthur George. The great-grandmother, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

"I think because the child is going to be the third in line to the throne, they have to maintain all this tradition," said Pauline Maclaran, a professor of marketing and consumer research at Royal Holloway and the co-author of the upcoming book, "Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture."

In other words Prince William and Kate could not break tradition and name their baby as other parents of the world do and give him a trendy name like "Aiden" (the most popular male baby name of 2012! Why? Because the closer to the throne the more you have to hold on to tradition!

Tradition is negative word to many yet has great value to the Royal Family of God as it gives direction when needing to make decisions for the future!

We are living in a time of great confusion in our Apostolic Pentecostal family! Many different brothers and sisters going in many different directions. Choices are being made that will lead some to leave our beliefs with the intention of winning the world! Their motive might be right but their actions could be wrong. Which way should you and I go? Do all roads lead to Rome? No they do not. But how can I make sure I'm headed in the right direction? 

The place of traditions in the life of the church is addressed by Paul in his 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonica. This is one of the earliest writings of the New Testament. Paul states the following to the church:

2 Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV)
15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

The Greek word for "traditions" in this verse is παραδόσεις. It is defined as: "the content of instruction that has been handed down", tradition, of teachings, commandments, narratives"
(William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 763.)

It is important in the study of scripture to notice the verbs of the verse. The verbs help us with the practical application of the verse since they tell us the actions to take or the state of being we are to have. The verbs in this verse are : Stand and hold. Both words have the same morphology: VPAM2P. They are Verbs Present tense Active voice M imperative mood 2nd person Plural tense. What does this say to us? We are commanded (Imperative mood) to take any needed action (active) to hold on to the traditions that have been given to us! In 2 Thess 3:6 he states to even separate ourselves from those who do not hold on to traditions! How long are we to hold on? Paul is stating because he speaks the words stand and hold in the present tense to hold on with no thought of ever letting go!

(present — The verb tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.
Michael S. Heiser, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Logos Bible Software, 2005). 

How did these traditions come to the Thessalonians' Church? By the word coming from the mouth of Paul and his written letters (2 Thess 2:15b)! Preaching, teaching and personal communication were the means to pass these traditions on!

What do traditions do for us today? There are those who state that "they were born in a different era and time, perhaps they are not relevant to us in this postmodernist time".

Physiologist Susan Lieberman gives a statement that helps us understand the importance and purpose of traditions even for us today.  She states:

 “Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world (Reference below).”

The New Testament uses the imaginary of the church as a family (Matt 12:49-50; Rom 12:10; 1 Tim 5:1-2; 1 John 3:1-2) . The church, the family of God, is in a world that is unsafe physically and spiritually. Our world is confusing especially for the young! They are bombarded by a culture that is dominated by sex and entertainment! Their sexual identity is challenged as well as their ability to make correct decisions! They do not want to judge the actions of others and yet they want truth!

Knowledge and practice of our Apostolic Pentecostal Church (family) traditions give us identity! They should mark us as being the people of God! Our Apostolic traditions will help us to remain steady in the course of construction of the Church. Our generation must continue to build upon our foundation (Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:1-10) with same dedication and sacrifice as previous generations. Through these traditions we connect with the original Apostles and their commission of being witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:8). We must not let our discipleship just be knowledge of history but allow it to be the stabilizing force in our lives. At the same time the traditions need to motivate us to the dedication to takes to do powerful ministry through the Spirit! We must understand that our protection to having powerful moves of the Spirit is the living of a life of separation from our culture! We must not assimilate neither isolate from our world. The god of this world, Satan , is trying to give the church inferior materials to use to build the church. Why? He understands that inferior materials will lead to disintegration of the Church until it is a pile of rubble. As rubble it will  have no ability to protect from the elements either be a wall of protection from enemy spiritual forces. We must hold on to the traditions that the elders have given to us and understand that they are the building blocks that have been passed to us to use for the building God family in our time!

   (Susan Lieberman (20th century). New Traditions: Redefining Celebrations for Today's Family, ch. 2 (1991).