| from Stephen Baker |
February 2 is traditionally known as Groundhog Day. It is a cultural superstition in North America and Canada where people watch to see if the groundhog sees his shadow to forecast whether winter is over and spring has arrived, or if winter will continue another six weeks. The tradition is derived from German folklore where the badger is the forecasting animal. The tradition, however, has proven to not correlate consistently with real weather patterns.
Traditions can be fun and provide a great sense of family identity – the decorations we use, the sports team we support, the cars we choose. They can also be a source of cultural identity and unity: like the foods we enjoy and the architecture of our buildings. However, as with the groundhog’s weather forecasting ability, traditions may not be a source of foundational truth. Yet many families put more stock into their traditions than in sources of real truth: God’s Word, science, and logic. Some individuals would even say that these three things are in contradiction and that is why they lean on their traditions. I wonder if like the groundhog, people are just crawling back into their comfort zones.
Traditions have a way of forming in many areas of our lives: our worship styles, our parenting, our holiday practices, and our family interactions. The religious leaders and Jewish people of Jesus’ day had their cultural traditions. Many of these had evolved in such a way that they too did not correlate with the truth of God’s Word. They demanded tithes and offerings inconsistent with the law. Their practices were not logical in meeting the needs of all the people. Jesus dealt with these when He preached, “You have heard it said….., but I say to you…”
In our culture today we have many questionable traditions as well. Traditions like:
- Political correctness where it is okay to use certain phrases in some groups but not in other groups.
- Holiday traditions of spending and decorating to impress those around us.
- Church participation in areas for our benefit or comfort.
- Parenting and disciplinary practices to placate or pacify our children.
Now is always a good time for us to evaluate the cultural practices that we have established within our families to see if they are sound in truth or just forms of cultural entertainment. They may be sources of great fun, unity, and identity. However, if they are not secure in truth we should be careful how we let them control our practices. If farmers based their planting on the groundhog, we might all be very hungry as we crawl back into our traditional burrows. So as we move further into 2021, let’s be challenged to be grounded in the truth – the truth of God’s Word.
Stephen Baker and his wife, Joyce have been two of Dr. Kathy’s thought-leaders for years. Now they’re both Celebrate Kids Associate Speakers and Writers. They work closely together. Steve has served in ministry for almost 40 years. With his heart for discipleship, he has worked as a senior pastor, associate pastor, teacher, coach, and hospice chaplain. Steve has a passion for families, mentoring believers, and discipling parents to walk in this world humbly and boldly as warriors sharing the powerful message of the gospel to all people.