As a girl growing up, I longed for the day when I would turn twenty-one.
Turning twenty-one meant I reached adulthood. I would be given a stylized and decorated key a big party. It meant being able to enter the pub, vote, and be independent. It was a tradition looked forward to with anticipation by the rich or poor.
The Second World War turned that tradition on its head. Families and their observances were broken up and the practices never resumed when the war ended.
Only my sister, the eldest and possibly my elder brother celebrated their twenty first birthdays. My two other brothers celebrated their twenty first fighting in the front line of the Pacific Islands.
By the time I turned twenty one, I was both wife and mother of a daughter and expecting a second child with a home of my own. My girlish dream of a twenty first party to launch me into adulthood was a forgotten dream. Marriage and motherhood saw to it that I entered the adult world. I and my siblings had been fast forwarded into adulthood, as had every other family when war was declared.
AT THE CROSSROADS
The first and second world wars broke up centuries of traditions. We discovered many rituals were merely folklore and were hypocritical, empty, false, and held no value. However, traditions do stabilize our society. They give us a sense that the world is secure and changeless. Change, when too sudden, can destabilise us and our world. Make us anxious and fearful. We cast about for security, we search for an anchor, finding that anchorage in things, religion, sex, love, and creating new traditions.
There is a key to societal changes, broken traditions, and anxieties and fears. The key is Jesus Christ, God’s son. He is constant and unmoveable, an absolute. Jesus is a person not a tradition. You may think religion is judgemental, full of do’s and don’ts, lacking in love and understanding and you would be right.
Religion is a tradition or a philosophy devised by humankind to fill the void in our lives. Different forms of religion have been around since man walked this earth. We have replaced intimacy with Jesus with traditions created to meet our needs. Where one must strive to perform, to earn one’s goodness, to appease an angry God. The harder we try to be good the more we fail, no amount of effort will change our spots. We can never reach that standard of perfection God requires.
We are rescued from the treadmill of self-effort by Jesus. A close intimate relationship with Jesus brings the security and stability needed and craved for in a war-like and ever-changing world. In believing in Jesus, we are acknowledging our inability to meet God’s standards and are willing to accept the goodness of Jesus as a gift to cover our failings. There is no effort needed on our part, just faith in Jesus.
God’s love and favour can’t be counterfeited, it is unearned, unchangeable, and free. We have been made by Jesus, the apple of God’s eye. The grace and favour of God is ours by faith in Jesus. We become new people in Christ Jesus. ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold, new things have come.’ (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
We are warned not to ‘let others spoil our faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men’s thoughts and ideas instead of on what Christ has said.’(Colossians 2: 8) Religion is all about earning our position with God. A true relationship with God is based on the faith and acceptance of our position in Jesus.
Tradition is not the key, Jesus Christ is the unalterable, unvarying key to life here and eternity.