Mark 7 – Traditions

Read Mark 7

The word “tradition” has become one of the most overused and misunderstood words in the church in recent years.  Some people hear this word and cringe, their minds rapidly moving toward visions of hymnals, organs, and hard wooden church pews.  Others hear it and are drawn by warm feelings to the “good ole days” where they sung familiar songs, had notes to read and music to follow, and sung in 4-part harmony.  While each group tends to have considerable disdain (though we wouldn’t necessarily name that) for the other,  neither inclination is, in itself, a bad thing.

However, as is often true, when our priorities get mixed up and we uphold the thing we cherish (musical style, way of doing things, etc.) over and above that to which those things point (namely: Jesus Christ), we fall into idolatry.  Indeed, much of the struggle with worship style actually falls into the label of idolatry, worshipping worship… or at least the way that we want to worship… which is actually worshipping ourselves.  Sadly, this has been applied more readily to the “traditionalist,” but is just as true for the “contemporary-ist.”

At the root of the problem for us and for the Pharisees here is where the heart is.  The Law was meant to be a guide for the hearts of the people, much like Sunday services are, in large part, meant to be a time to corporately direct our hearts toward God.  Yet we have a funny way of trying to make that time be more about us whilst making it sound like we are trying to make it about God.

Jesus’ words here are a gut check for Christians: when something we do to “worship” God is divisive, it may be “that which defiles” more than “that which honors.”


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  1. This is so true. I do love the “traditional” and the “contemporary” songs. It is all about Jesus, and worshiping. I sometimes miss the four part harmony which I would hear when I was growing up in church as many people grew up with piano and band lessons, and hymnals, so they could actually read the notes. It was a beautiful sound! But hey, if we’re making a “joyful noise” that’s ok too. I hope we can continue to blend our service as we do now. Both styles have so much value and we should respect each other. There’s so much beauty in each way. And really, music is the only difference. Although at times people can get in differences about clothing, playing videos, using media, or other petty things. But we need to remember that things may affect believers and not-yet believers and who knows what God wants to use! We need to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading! Thank you for this reminder. I don’t think Jesus cared what kind of praise music was used, or what people wore. He just wants our hearts. It is about honoring God.

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