Lenten Devotion: Big T, Little T

Image result for Big T, Little TRead Matthew 28:18-20

This isn’t quite a repeat of yesterday even though you’ve been asked to read the same text to start with.

In Matthew 28 Jesus sends his followers to make disciples through baptism and teaching people everything that he has commanded. In our day and time, some people may think that this is fulfilled by “inviting people to church.” Certainly, we hope that as the people gather for worship that they will indeed hear the gospel of God’s forgiveness in Christ. However, the traditional act of simply “coming to church” is not the formative or redemptive point.

Dr. Ed Stetzer says that we must distinguish between “big T” traditions and “small t” traditions.

The “big T” traditions are those beliefs and practices that arise from God’s Word. They are the means by which God has promised to forgive, bring life and salvation, create and nurture faith. These “big T” traditions revolve around the gospel of Christ in God’s Word as it comes to us in preaching, teaching, the sharing of faith, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

On the other hand, the “small t” traditions are those human practices that we develop over time to express our faith. Many of these traditions are seen in worship: the type of music, the order of worship, the way we do communion. These “small t” traditions are meaningful for those who are already inside the church, but can become distractions to growing in faith and in our witness to those who are outside the faith.

Tradition can play an important role in the life of a Christian community. However, it is important to maintain a clear distinction between the Tradition of our faith that has been passed down (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6) and the human traditions that may bear witness to our faith or merely provide order.

So what are the “big T” traditions of our faith?  What are the “small t” traditions we value? What “small t” traditions get in the way of our witness to Christ or in our expressing mercy and love to our neighbour?