Friday, April 20, 2007

On Aquanet and tradition

Isn't it funny how certain smells are intricately tied to a specific time or place or even person? For instance, the smell of Noxema transports me back to church youth camp when, sunburned and hurting bad, we would slather on the odious stuff in an effort to gain some relief so we could head back out to the pool the next day. Without sunscreen. Of course.

A couple of weeks ago, as I followed a woman into a local place of business, the unmistakable smell of Aquanet overtook me and immediately I was reminded of my high school days when we would all plaster our hair til it was stiff and immovable. Aquanet, as those of you who were in high school in the eighties well know, was a key part of the process. I wonder, as I look back, what made us think big, super-stiff hair was attractive? Did we not know what we looked like with bangs and "wings" that made us six inches taller?

Several years ago, I read somewhere that we tend to keep the hairstyle that hearkens back to the time in our life where we felt the happiest and the most beautiful. I assume the article refers to those women who actually maintain the same hairstyle for some length of time. Maybe those of us who change our hairstyle with the wind have yet to feel happy and beautiful? Food for thought there, but I digress...

I don't know if the article is correct or not, but the woman with the Aquanet-infused hairstyle made me think about the things we hang on to because we once felt happiness or fullness or beauty. Clothes in our closets, usually a smaller size than we wear now, just as a for instance.

We tend to do the same thing with traditions and rituals. How often have you heard...or said..."it's the way we've always done it" or "it was good enough for me, back then, so it's good enough now" or "I just know what I like and like what I know" or "it served us well then."

Nothing wrong with tradition. Nothing wrong with remembrance. There are certainly, absolutely, those things that are right and true and worth holding on to and defending.

But sometimes, we have to be careful we aren't exalting tradition merely for tradition's sake. Let's face it, some things become irrelevant and ineffective. And if we would take an honest evaluation, we would see that some things we hang on to so tightly are really as ridiculous as plastering your hair straight up six inches off your head.

Consider Jesus' words: "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." (Mark 7:8). Or Isaiah's stinging condemnation,
The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men."Is. 29:13
As we consider the many issues facing our churches today, we must ask ourselves, what is it we are really fighting for? Are we holding on to the traditions and rules taught by men? Are we clinching our can of Aquanet firmly in hand, saying "but I looked fine back then"?

Do not hear me say we are to bow and sway with the cultural winds. While that is certainly tempting in regard to our hairstyles of choice, it is ridiculous in terms of service and worship of our God. We are not called to emulate the world and sadly many of us who claim the name of Christ look and act no differently, even in our worship.

So we must ask ourselves, What are we clinging to? And more importantly, Why are we clinging? Because it's the way we've always done it? Is our worship mere lip service, masking hearts that are far from God? If God were to do a new thing among us, would we perceive it?

Let us cling, not to tradition, but to the commands and Word of our God. Let us exalt above all things His name and His Word. Let us be willing to let go of mere tradition (as well as worldly trends) and grasp instead His will and His way. Let us be worshipers who worship Him not in rules made up by men, but in spirit and truth.


  1. I so enjoy reading your blog. You truly make me think. I am new to this blogging world and have started my own blog. I too have touched a little on this subject of holding onto things...material possesions. My writing is not nearly as eloquent as yours...but, I am trying. If you have a chance stop God Bless!

  2. Well, hair (the analogy, not the real thing)is often our problem. We don't need "hair" to worship. We have "hair" because we think it makes things better. Like real hair, we think it should look a certain way so we appear the best. We need to get back to the root (Jesus!) and the incessant bickering about preferentials would take a back seat.

    I shave my head, as you know. After reading this blog, it makes me even happier that I do!

  3. Very thought provoking, Lisa! It made me start thinking about my own personal walk with the Lord and had me ask what can of aquanet I personally am holding onto.

  4. Great post Lisa and as always right in line with what I am dealing with. A group of friends at church just had the conversation on leagalism vs. dedication. This went right along with it.

  5. Lisa,

    I am currently doing a Bible study of Mark and was struck by the swame passage that you refer to for the same purpose. My church is going through transition as it is trying to become more modern and hence more appealing to the 20 & 30 somethings that make up the large percentage of our community. There is so much resistance to this change. When I read the scriptures in Mark I felt that God was saying that not only is it ok to change but it is imperative to change and move forward to continue doing God's work.

    Thanks for the great post!


  6. It depends...if it is Biblical traditions or traditions that uphold Biblical principles, then we should adhere to it....if it is extra biblical traditions set by man...such as legalistic rules,then we must be careful and adhere to Christ.

    Nice thoughts!