We need to beware of tradition wrapped as religion.
I went to a church recently and was all dressed up in my finery for a thanksgiving service.
I was told as we were going in that I might not be allowed to enter because I didn’t have a scarf on my head. I said well let’s see. They might notice I am a guest and let slide anyway. So I walked into the church and no one says cover your head. We are in church for an hour and a half and we get to the bit that I came for, thanking God with my family.
As with some Nigerian churches, we dance from the back of the church to the altar. As we are dancing, I take out some money from my purse (held in my right hand) to put in the offering basket when we get to the front.
As I put the money in the offering basket, the usher says why didn’t I use my right hand to put the money in the basket? My instant response to her is “will God reject my money because I used my left hand?” She doesn’t answer.
We finish thanking God and the Pastor blesses the couple. As we are walking back to our seats, the same usher zooms to me to ask me why I didn’t cover my head. I say to her that I am good plus my braids are a covering on my head. I am not in the mood to have a religious discussion about head covering or none.
But then I started thinking, would God reject my offering because I used the wrong hand? And the answer is no. What came to mind is that we have allowed tradition to be defined as religion and so if anyone doesn’t conform to that tradition, they mustn’t be religious. It makes me think that we (the church) are losing people because of tradition because you can bet your buck I won’t be going to such a church again if I was a new Christian and was hungry for God.
It makes me wonder how many people we have lost in the body of Christ due to our traditional practices. It makes me think that there are so many people who will think Christianity is all about tradition and not about a relationship with God.
It’s time for us as a church (a church is you and me) to cast out tradition when it erodes the foundation of relationship with God. Creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19) not for religious practices and traditions.