***The following post was written three years ago.
I have to go on the record! I have a spur under my saddle. It bothers me, when people get cultural issues and the obeying the gospel confused. It is common to human nature to try to make others like ourselves, but this is not the Great Commission (See Matthew 28:19,20). The church is simply to preach the gospel and make disciples of Christ; not westernize believers. If the practice in a culture is not contrary to the New Testament teaching, then we (the church) should not try to change this tradition. For example, in America it is widely accepted that ministers should wear ties. Yet, I have a Bulgarian friend, that says, at one point, in the Bulgarian culture, ties were considered worldly and shunned. (For ties pointed down to hell!)Another illustration of this blurring the lines of culture and gospel commands, I experienced first hand. I occasionally grow my facial hair out, because I like it that way. Some people call this practice sinful, which I find humorous, since the sinless Savior of the world had a beard!
How does one receive salvation? For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Eph.2:8) Further more, the evidence of salvation is the fruit of the Spirit. (22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law ~Galatians 5:22,23). When we reduce the evidence of conversion down to obeying a dress code or a set of unbiblical traditions of men, we are on the verge of being a modern day Pharisee (See Matthew 23:15).
I understand people have different personal convictions and this is fine.(I also have personal convictions, but I will not promote them from the pulpit.) The individual with these convictions must remember they are “personal” convictions. (Please see Romans 14 about “personal convictions”.)The rule and guide of a Christian’s conduct should be the New Testament. You may ask, “What about the Old Testament?” Remember Christ came to fulfill the law! We as Born again believers should only hold to those Old Testaments commands that are reiterated in the New Testament. This is due, because we are under a new and better covenant! If you say you live by the law, then maybe you should read this: 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (Galatians 2:21,22). Thank you Jesus for your truly amazing grace!
In conclusion, before you teach a person that practicing an act, performing a task, or dressing a certain way; is what makes you a Christian. Ask yourselves if this is a biblical conviction or a cultural conviction? I am in NO WAY saying traditions are wrong, but we are to view traditions through the lens of Scripture. I will take the approach of Paul, who did not allow cultural difference to hinder his evangelistic work (See 1 Corinthians 9:20-22).
Kevin W. Bounds