November 5, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

Faithful God, Unfaithful People
Numbers 25:10-13; 1 Samuel 2:30-36

Read this article as a Word Document

ďReform and TraditionĒ

I love traditions, and the fall is my favorite time of the year. The last week in October and the first week in November are sort of a sacred time of year for me. One of my favorite things about this month is setting our clocks back an hour and getting an extra hour of sleep. Itís payback for the time change hour we lose every spring, which falls on a well-known Spring Forward Sunday tradition of partaking in worship services at Bedside Baptist and Mattress Mennonite churches.

October and November also hold a special place in my heart because my favorite sport is baseball. The October/November tradition of World Series playoffs is unlike any other. When I was in high school (I can recall this as if it were yesterday) the upstart 1997 Florida Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians. In 2003, they shook the baseball world again when they were victorious over two of the most popular franchises, the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees.

I am far from being a Marlins fan, but I am a baseball fan, and what made these specific Marlin teams with two completely different rosters was the very disruptive and nontraditional manner in which they earned their two World Series Championships. From the perspective of us traditional baseball fans who adhere to a type of baseball purity, the Marlinsí owner was not faithful to the traditional and correct way of doing baseball. Even worse, the owner and his relatively new franchise had embarrassed three of Major League Baseballís oldest teams, which had some of the most loyal fanbases.

As human beings, we look to tradition as a source of stability. Some things in life are often beyond our control, and traditions are one way we try to manage our lives. We like to go with what works, and when something is tried that is not traditional we get offended and are suspicious of this new change. The story of Eliís sons is a case in point. God is upset with Hophni and Phinehas because they have sinned greatly against Yahweh. They have reproached the LORD greatly, and in turn, God goes against tradition (1Samuel 2:30). Rather than the priesthood being carried out by the descendants in Eliís family line, God chooses a priest based on that personís faithfulness to God (1 Samuel 2:35).

The last week of October/first week in November also marks the time when God called a German monk, Martin Luther, to break tradition so that Christians all over the world could return to God and live lives of faithfulness. Every year, Christians remember the faithful saints of every stripeóCatholic, Protestant, and Orthodoxóon All Saintsí Eve. As a church that experiences Godís grace, let us remember that sometimes a break with tradition (and the persons God uses to accomplish it) can be just whatís needed for the kingdom of God to grow.

  • What traditions from the Anabaptist/Radical Reformation may need to be challenged today?
  • How is God challenging you and your local congregation to walk in Godís freedom?

—Rod Thomas,

© 2017

Rod Thomas is a child-centered, fair-minded academic; a Christian who sometimes writes; and an aspiring preacher and layperson at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is actively involved in his congregationís homeless and childrenís ministries and is a syndicated blogger for MennoNerds.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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