Road rage is a real thing! Let’s be honest; you’ve been at a four-way stop or have navigated the pace of oncoming cars on the ramp of an interstate. It is easy to let our frustration show through the honking of a horn, the riding of a bumper, or the stare that we offer as we break the law and speed past someone.
Alright, maybe you’ve never done that. But I have.
It is common for friction to be found where two roads intersect. Part of the cause is our rushed pace or perhaps our unwillingness to consider the pressure on other drivers. At the end of the day, we selfishly think our destination and schedule are the only ones that matter.
More significant than the friction that may arise at the intersection of a four-way stop, though, is the friction that may occur at the intersection of traction and tradition.
We may see a new program or new ministry flourishing, and while we might be excited for its progress, we might also see it as a threat to our familiarity. It is in this intersection that friction can be seen. If not dealt with properly, this friction can fracture unity.
When we follow the life and ministry of Paul, we come to Acts 21:15-26. God has blessed his ministry to the Gentiles and expansion of the church to Asia and beyond. News has travelled of the thousands who have been baptized and the many churches that have been planted. God was on the move and there was reason to celebrate.
The traction of Paul’s ministry gave way to friction when it intersected with the tradition that was found in the church of Jerusalem. For them, there were heavy Jewish influences that impacted their daily life and even how they “did church”.
It is encouraging to see how Paul respected and honored those traditions when he returned to Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 9:20 is a practical statement of Paul’s ministry. He recognized the importance of Jewish tradition and was committed to fostering fellowship in the increasingly diverse church. Acts 15 describes the council’s intentional commitment to fostering fellowship between Jews and Gentiles.
For the modern church, we must recognize the tendency to hold onto tradition and the need to honor it, as well. We must also note the traction that is being seen in an unchurched and unreached population of Americans who are coming to faith in Christ.
We should not be surprised to see friction as this traction intersects tradition. The question will be about our response. Will we prioritize and promote the essentials of our faith and promote peace to that end? Or will we stand ready to fall on the sword of tradition and risk quenching a possible revival?
“We’ve never done it this way,” or, “We’ve always done it this way,” are two selfishly motivated statements. We must be guarded and committed to listening and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes that may lead us toward tradition and a method that we know works. Other times, that may lead us to a non-conventional method that is needed to reach souls.
This is not a blog to belittle traditional church methods, and this is not an underlying message about worship music. This is simply a reminder to keep our eyes on Jesus and to follow His leadership, no matter how it may impact tradition. I much prefer to see traction for the advancement of the Gospel, no matter the method, and I pray the church of Jesus will be unified in that regard.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 21:15–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
1 Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 447–448). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
1 Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 448). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
1 Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 365). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
1 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 2, p. 173). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
1 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 2, pp. 177–178). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.