Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Have you ever thought about how holidays bring glory to God?
The danger comes when we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of thinking that since we've adopted many customs and traditions of our culture and childhood that are good and healthy, everything our culture does is good and worth repeating. This is seen perhaps nowhere clearer than in the celebration of holidays. Some of your fondest memories may include shouting "Happy New Year" at midnight, receiving a heart shaped box of chocolates, hunting for eggs after a sunrise church service, watching fireworks, dressing up in costumes and making yourself sick on your collected candy, sitting around a large table eating turkey with your cousins, or tearing the brightly colored paper off your presents around a gaily decorated tree. And because there are such precious memories associated with the sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and feelings of those holidays we are lulled into thinking that they are all inherently good, after all surely something that feels so right can't be wrong... Or can it? The very word "holidays" points us to the fact that most of these were initially intrinsically religious, and even those that weren't at their inception take on moral value when they are celebrated by a follower of Jesus Christ who is to do everything to the glory of God. If we really do claim to desire to bring every thought and action under submission to the Word of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ, then willful ignorance is no excuse either. Can we disconnect Valentine's Day from it predecessor Lupercalia, the pre-Roman celebration of fertility from Feb. 13-15 to commemorate the she-wolf Lupa suckling Romulus and Remus and worship the Greek god Pan, which was celebrated by shepherds running nude through the streets? Can we redeem objects like the Easter Bunny and colored eggs and return them to their original symbolism of life after death and birth from virginity, or should we discard them as being wholly corrupted by commercialism? Is the "harmless fun" of dressing up in costumes and eating candy a sufficient reason to engage and partake of a holiday that has come to represent witchcraft, ghouls, vampires, zombies, and generally every creature that has been historically viewed as coming from hell? Can a christian celebrate Christmas and justify partaking of a Mass or the sacrificing of the Son of God afresh? To say nothing of the ancient pagan festivals held on Dec. 25 worshiping the "sun god", from which Christmas evolved (Jesus wasn't born anywhere close to Dec. 25)!
While I have an opinion and conviction about every one of these issues - which we should embrace, which to redeem and which to reject - the purpose of this article is not to tell you what to believe but to challenge you to think! To stop doing things just because that's the way you've always done it, or that's what everyone else does, and decide whether what you're doing is consistent with scripture and your obedience to it. With Halloween just a day away, now is a good time to ask ourselves what we are doing and why! I can handle it if you've studied the scriptures and have come up with a conclusion that is different than mine, what drives me crazy is people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and yet have never even stopped to think about how they bring glory to God through every activity they partake in, even the holidays that bring the warm fuzzies.