Life offers many irritations. Like mosquitos, leaky faucets, uncomfortable shoes, heartburn, rap music, reality TV, and cotton balls.
Yes, Cotton balls.
I was reminded of how infuriating the little buggers can be the other day when I opened a new bottle of aspirin. I think I would have had an easier time getting past an armed guard than I had getting past that little wad of cotton. After shaking the bottle, banging it on the counter, and trying to dig my pinky into an opening that was far too small for such a maneuver, I went off in search of the tweezers, which, of course, were nowhere to be found. It occurred to me as my blood pressure skyrocketed that taking an aspirin shouldn’t be this hard. Becoming an astronaut should be hard. Performing brain surgery should be hard. But not taking an aspirin.
Here’s the kicker.
Did you know there’s no reason why an aspirin bottle needs a cotton ball in it? Aspirin companies have been putting them in there since the early 1900’s, but they readily admit that the aspirin would not be affected at all if they were left out.
Which begs the question: why on earth are they still putting cotton balls in aspirin bottles?
The answer: tradition.
When you’ve been doing something the same way for over 100 years, it just feels like you ought to keep doing it whether it makes any sense or not.
Sadly, many Christians are also bound up in the straight jacket called tradition. Recently, a man walked into our church for the first time to worship on a Sunday morning. When he saw that we didn’t have a communion table sitting in front of the pulpit, he took his wife by the arm and stomped out. I’ve also known believers who felt like they couldn’t worship if they weren’t sitting in their regular pew or singing the hymns of their youth.
Some traditions are good, but others are downright silly. Some may even border on idolatry. It’s a sign of maturity when you can begin to tell the difference.
For further reflection read Matthew 15:1-9, Mark 7:1-13, Galatians 1:13-15.