Following religious traditions and laws (going to church, being good, giving to charity, not smoking or drinking and so on) to get right with God is like playing a game of football (soccer) with the ball attached to an anchor post by a length of bungee. It doesn’t work. Life is made more complicated and restricted when religious traditions bind people because of a fear that changing those traditions would make us less acceptable to God.
The gospel of Christ crucified for sin cuts the religious bungee which loads of people are bound by. No longer restricted by trying to do the right thing for God to earn his love we are instead assured of his love and forgiveness. True believers are free to play the game, traditions are not required.
Cutting the bungee of religious tradition does not mean being free for a random kick-about. Like a game of football, life needs boundaries and rules, and God gives us those in his law. The law is our friend, not a tether, a blessing (Psalm 1:1-2) as life works best when we play by God’s rules.
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. [Galatians 2:19-21]
Many churches spend their time making sure the traditions make people feel comfortable before God, when actually it is Christ on the cross who should make us comfortable in God’s presence. When people grasp the cross, they are freed from traditions and are able to adjust, make sacrifices and allow changes, for the sake of others, even those whose appearance, customs and traditions differ vastly from our own.