What to do with Tradition

Our ancestors struggled with many of the same problems that we face. Their solutions are not always the best, but not always the worst either. Newer is not necessarily better. Find out why! 

Last week I was on a mission trip to Chicago with the youth choir from our church, and one of my favorite parts was the chance to talk with the kids. I have been going for several years and have seen youth born since 1993 on these journeys. Also for the past three weeks, my family and I have hosted three women in their early to mid-20s working in Washington DC as part of a journalism internship for World Magazine. These groups represent the last half of the generation that demographers call the Millennials, roughly defined as people born between 1980 and 2000.

As we talked, one theme that arose was a tendency among some to dislike tradition. This theme is at odds with some data indicating that Millennials seek tradition, but the difference may be in semantics. Since in the course of normal conversation few people clearly define their terms, and we didn’t either, it is not certain what each person in my non-scientific sample meant. However it was apparent that each speaker had a slightly different definition, many relating the word “tradition” to the phrase “we’ve always done it this way.” Since authors from Tom Peters (born 1942) to Colin Powell (born 1937) have warned readers not to blindly adopt traditional ways of doing things, it is worth asking ourselves“What should we do with tradition?”

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Who is Responsible?

Are we individually responsible for what we do? When are we responsible for what happens to us? If we take credit for our successes, how can we avoid the blame for our failures?

I was at a Preventive Medicine conference in February of 2011 and the speaker was discussing unhealthy lifestyle choices.  Her theme was that people really weren’t responsible for smoking cigarettes, being overweight or sedentary, or any other unhealthy choice.  Instead, they were victims of their genetics and their environment.

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The Love and Immutability of God

God loves us more and differently than we can imagine. He will never change, and He will never rest until we are what He has created us to be. 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

If there is one verse, or at least part of a verse, that is better known than Psalm 23:1 or John 3:16, it is the phrase “God is love”. In modern America, no other statement about God would meet with more agreement, and yet what does that statement mean? Further, if God loves us, can He change? Is there a possibility that He will stop loving us?

A good place to begin is to consider the meanings of the word “love” in the original Greek that John used when he wrote. “Love” (ἀγάπη agapē) in the passage mentioned above refers to good will or benevolence. The Apostle Paul describes the word with great clarity in 1 Corinthians 13, revealing that such love, in its perfect form, is unlike any other love known to man. Agape is rarely used in secular ancient Greek literature, and can be considered a love of the unlovable. Brotherly love (φιλέω phileō) refers to the natural love for friends (John 20:2), family members (Matthew 10:37), one’s reputation (Matthew 6:5), and even one’s own life (John 12:25). Eros is another common Greek word for love, is not found in the Bible, and in ancient literature commonly refers to erotic, sexual, or romantic love, as personified in Eros, the Greek god of love. Plato defined eros as “the desire for something that I do not have or the desire never to lose what I now have.” It is a love of the loveable.

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