There is a story about a young, newly ordained minister who went to serve his first church. He noticed that on the first Sunday, when he said the prayers, the congregation on the left side of the church stood at the beginning of the prayers, and the congregation on the right side remained seated.
The young minister thought this was a bit odd, but he kept going in the prayers -- until he began to hear some murmuring between the two sides, then the murmuring turned into grumbling and then people yelling at each other, proclaiming that they were doing the right thing when it came to the tradition of the church.
Distressed by what he had seen and all that was taking place, the young pastor went to seek the counsel of the former, now elderly pastor, who had served this congregation for years. He asked him, "So is it the tradition of the congregation to stand during the prayers?"
The older minister, whose memory was now failing, stroked his beard, replied, "No, that is not the tradition, as I recall."
"So, the tradition is that they remain seated during the prayers?"
To which the old minister responded, "No, that's not the tradition either."
The young pastor threw his hands in the air in exasperation, and said, "There must be some solution to this! The way things are now, half stand and half sit, and all end up screaming at one another during the prayers."
The old pastor's face lit up in a smile; he lifted his finger high into the air and said, "Ahh, yes! Now I remember -- that was the tradition!"
So, I guess my concern here is that a tradition of fighting is just another tradition? Let us not be caught up in tradition but rather be caught up in doing what is pleasing in the eyes of God and that is to love one another as God loves us.
Pastor James "Skip" French is the pastor of Highland Christian Church, 1500 Forest Hills Blvd., Bella Vista. Opinions expressed are those of the author.