Say what you want about cancel culture.
That it’s mob mentality. That it doesn’t really accomplish anything. That it’s mean-spirited and unforgiving.
Those things might all be true, but at least for me, cancel culture forces me to think again.
It forces me to take a second look at what I consume and whether or not it’s actually fit for consumption. I think again. I look again. I critically analyze, if only for a moment.
Isn’t that what they kept telling us to do in school?
Anyway, when people rail against problematic and toxic mentalities and cultures, all you have to do is scroll down a little bit before someone brings religion into the conversation somehow. It’s almost like you can trace everything bad in society right back to the Bible.
So let’s try using our critical thinking skills.
Let’s start with something easy. Today’s chapter. It describes how the Israelites moved as a society, how they blew two silver trumpets to call themselves together or to signal the time to head out. How they organized themselves and traveled in a strict order.
Order. Rules. Tradition. It seemed to work well for them. Is there something here?
Make It Make Sense
But then again, a signal to come together or a specific travel formation isn’t really a tradition. It’s more like what works, right?
Verse 9 is a little different though. After explaining how to blow the trumpets to call the Israelites to assembly, God tells the Israelites to sound their silver trumpets when they go to war, because “then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies”.
Really? God will only rescue them if they sound the trumpets? I can imagine a young Israelite soldier some years down the line rolling their eyes at their old commanders, stuck in their ways, still sounding that random trumpet blast to ensure God’s protection.
It sounds silly, but we have traditions like that today. And we argue over them constantly.
Like not wearing pants to church if you’re a woman.
Or going to church three times a week.
Or refusing to wear jewelry. Or makeup.
Or not eating meat or dairy.
Or trying to spiritualize holidays like Christmas and Easter.
And for every one of our Christian “traditions”, there’s someone pointing out everything wrong with it.
There’s someone calling for us to drop it and move on.
There’s someone thinking, Really? God will only save us, listen to us, like us if we do this?
So what gives? Should we cancel our traditions?
Or should we take a second look?
Because to one side, the Israelites battle trumpet tradition was unnecessary. But on the other side, it reminded the Israelites who the battle truly belonged to. It reminded them who would be the ultimate Winner.
We could see Christian traditions as old-fashioned. We could write tweets and thinkpieces about how we don’t need them anymore, how times have changed, and how theology has changed.
Or we could ask a different question. What’s the point?
Do our traditions draw us closer to God?
Do they hint at our purpose, the reason we even have breath?
Do they remind us who the battle truly belongs to?
Do they fight against our very worst tendencies, the thoughts and habits that distract us and hurt us?
The answers to those questions are pulled from the depths of our study. They are uncovered when we dig deep into the Bible, when we ask questions, when we take it seriously.
Because in a world like this, we need all the pointers and reminders and repetitions we can get, if they push us toward Jesus.
God’s Message: “I want a special place in your heart.”
Traditions make us feel safe. They give us security. They give us some part of the world, some part of life that is stable, that makes sense, that we understand. Everything changes but this stays the same, and that lets us feel like we’re going to be okay.
Who’s more safe than Jesus? What’s more secure than a life following Him?
He’s literally the only One who can offer us perfect stability – because no matter what happens, no matter how much life changes – He will always love us. He will always fight for us.
I confess that I forget that truth way more than makes sense. Sometimes something goes wrong, and I find myself wishing for someone I could run to, someone who would understand – when, duh, the Someone is Jesus.
We need reminders. We need traditions. We need to be pointed to Jesus again and again, over and over, until He is our number 1, our reason for living, and the most important Person in our lives.
What do you think? How valuable do you think tradition is in our faith walk? Do you have any spiritual traditions?