Tradition has always seemed stale to me. It wreaked of thoughtlessness. Doing something over and over again simply because someone before you did it felt like such a waste of time. But as I mentioned in a previous entry, I have since recognized that tradition is the glue that holds us together. It is a thread that connects the beginning to end. As Chesterton says, tradition is the democracy of the past. Rather than tradition being a gift we give to our ancestors by appeasing them in our actions - an obligatory nod to their archaic practices - tradition is really the recognition and celebration of a gift our ancestors have given to us.
Any good, lasting tradition revolves around some worldview notion that was deemed so valuable, it was preserved in the form of tradition. Even seemingly benign or childish traditions, like Santa Claus, contain entrenched worldview teachings. Santa, for instance, holds central this idea that good works are rewarded with material blessings. Your success is up to you. This is the American Dream. Work hard and do good and you will rise up. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos emphasizes the importance of family and heritage, the importance of legacy and being remembered, and the view of the continuation of a soul beyond death. While these traditions, and others, may often look shallow and eccentric (especially in our modern culture with heavy marketing), lasting traditions are often built on very deep beliefs.
I explore and summarize John Howard Yoder's "The Politics of Jesus," which has become a very influential book in my life. The book takes a look at what Christ came to do and how what he did should influence our daily lives.
1. The Cup of Suffering: Jesus's actions were very meaningful, as he sought to establish his Kingdom in part by flipping our power systems upside down.
2. Drinking from Our Cup: While Jesus performed some actions that were specific to fulfilling his messianic role, Christ's moral life and actions are largely prescriptive for believers today. We are called to share the same cup.
3. The Cross and the Kingdom: The cross is not something that might happen for believers, it is the sure result of following Christ and living a Kingdom oriented life.
4. The Kingdom and kingdoms: Since we serve in God's kingdom which is not of this world, yet remain living in the kingdoms of humanity, we must face the reality of conflicting interests and gauge how to handle these.
5. Questions and Conclusion:
So for we as Christians to shine our light, it is vital that we understand we are illuminated objects reflecting our luminous source. As the main text of Matthew 5 tells us, this shining light that we are to be will illuminate our good works. Ephesians 2:10 - the oft overlooked successor to the wonderful declaration of grace in verses 8-9, reinforces that as Christ's workmanship, we have been formed to complete good works. This is not only a charge, but an inevitability to the one who follows Christ. For as Romans 8 declares, all things work together for the good of the Christian - with good defined as being conformed to the image of Christ. True Christians will be lights just as Christ is light, and we will do good works just as Christ did good works, and we will share that good with the world, just as Christ did. Certainly we will be imperfect as we go through this process of sanctification, but through the Holy Spirit, Christians will be markedly different than the world.