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Give Me that Old-Time Religion

  • Unity

Give me that old-time religion,
give me that old-time religion,
give me that old-time religion,
it’s good enough for me!

It was good enough for our fathers,
it was good enough for our fathers,
it was good enough for our fathers,
it’s good enough for me!

It was good enough for our mothers,
it was good enough for our mothers,
it was good enough for our mothers,
it’s good enough for me!

So you better circumcise your children,
circumcise your children,
circumcise your children,
because it was good enough for Moses, so it’s good enough for me!

Sometimes that “old-time religion” may be good enough for our fathers, our mothers, and for us, but there comes a time when it isn’t what our children or our children’s children need.

There is this myth in our lives, our politics, and our churches that there is this magical time “back there” somewhere where everything is perfect. If we could just get back there then we wouldn’t have any of the problems we have nowadays.

When we think back carefully, though, “back there” isn’t as good as we might think it is.

High school wasn’t as fun in the moment as it is when we’re reminiscing with friends.

The country might have been good for some people “back there,” but what about people like Ruby Bridges (now 67 years old) who was yelled at and threatened by grown adults when she was the first person to integrate into a school in the South. What does she think about “back there?”

Or we might think fondly of Friday night signings, church camps, and gospel meetings, but what about those times when we were forced to turn down invitations to our friend’s Easter egg hunt because their entire family was doomed to Hell for worshipping with a piano? Do we want that “old-time religion?”

So what do we do?

We must differentiate between what makes our “old-time religion” good and what elements of it might not be good enough for future generations, or we may just lose them.

To younger generations of Christians, just wanting to get back to that “old-time religion” seems like admitting defeat. It’s almost as if we’re saying that Christian perfection ends with us. That there is no tradition, no custom, no change that could possibly be good because we are the best that there is.

So, anyone who comes along and suggests change we view with suspicion, call a change-agent, and shame out of the church. If they don’t lose their faith, which happens often, they find somewhere they can belong, somewhere where they can use their God-given talents and gifts.

But when we learn that what makes any church good is Jesus, then we can’t help but be open for change unless we are willing to say that we are as good as He is. We have to go wherever He leads, and that means being open to being wrong, having difficult discussions, and even making radical positive change.

This means holding traditions loosely but holding Truth (Jesus) tightly.

Please! Give me that old-time religion! But if it comes between a younger brother or sister in Christ and Jesus or between them and myself, take it back and let me depend on Jesus alone. Have my traditions! Take my customs! Have my rituals! Just give me Jesus because it is in Him that we have unity. Just give me faith working through love.

2 thoughts on “Give Me that Old-Time Religion”

  1. Amen!!! Thanks for an insightful message. Unfortunately, much of our “old time religion” is loaded with inherited traditions handed down from one generation to the next generation. Regrettably, many of our forefathers failed to read the Bible with “audience relevance” in mind. We need to look at the Scriptures with “fresh eyes.” All of us, to some extinct, are children of our culture, which system was and is loaded with hand-me-down interpretations that govern the way we read the Bible.

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