The fabric of society is held together by traditions. All of us are creatures of habit which form tradition. Some traditions are healthy. Some traditions are not so healthy. Some traditions make my eyes roll. Others happen without us really understanding that what we do is out of tradition.
Examples of tradition are the cup of coffee we have every morning. The reading of the Sunday paper. Checking emails. Which barber or hair dresser we go to. The annual family holiday. Even the questions we ask and the responses we give to family, friends and others often have a traditional basis to them. We can be traditional within a individual, family, community, national and global framework. And it formulates our sense of identity.
The Apostle Paul was a traditional man. He was a man who revelled in tradition. Tradition made him. It gave him a sense of purpose and direction. It formed his identity. It formed his sense of community. It formed his sense of national pride. Tradition made him proud to be a Jew. Yet his zeal for the traditions of his forebears also isolated him. It isolated him from what God was doing. It isolated him from God’s plans. It isolated him from true community. And it isolated him from truly understanding what the real purpose of Judaism really was.
His zeal for tradition blinded him in his pursuit of traditional purity. So much so that he persecuted the early church and thought God was proud of his actions. Yet through an encounter of the risen Lord, the Apostle Paul discovered how wrong he was. This encounter changed him immensely. It shattered him to the core. It stripped away his zeal for tradition and instead instilled in him a new sense of life and freedom. And so Paul become an Apostle to the Gentiles where he taught with a new passion about the love of God and about how to love each other.
And within this framework – the true tradition of Christianity and the Christian faith is the tradition of love. Love that works through, over and within Christ.