Caving in to Culture

We all know about the erosion of Christian culture that has taken place in our country over the recent decades. Secularism has pushed many traditions to the side as more and more people get “offended” at anything that references Jesus. Unfortunately, the church has many times given up traditions in favor of cultural expressions that really have no place inside the walls where saints are to be equipped in the work of the ministry.

I cannot believe how many churches in my area bring Santa Claus into the service. This special holiday, where we focus on the great gift God gave us in sending His Son down to live on earth as a human, is muddled together with a mythic, magical person. How can the story of Mary and Joseph compete with flying reindeer? My wife and I visited many churches where pictures with Santa were offered and Santa was the star of birthday parties supposedly for baby Jesus. Young children cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy, especially when fantasy is continually reinforced by trusted figures.

We cry about “keeping Christ in Christmas” and then give them Santa? We try and teach the commandment not to lie and then tell our children Santa is real? What kind of mixed message is that? It is especially infuriating to me when the church is to be the repository of truth. The story of Jesus is so precious, so life-changing it must never be diluted by anything.

If you want Santa pictures go to the mall, schools, city Christmas events. Leave him out of church. I don’t care if adults whine and cry about it being harmless fun, that everyone does it or cannot understand the big deal. Church is to be where truth is proclaimed, Jesus is magnified and God worshiped We are in a battle for the souls of men and women, boys and girls and cannot afford to waste time trying to be cute and relevant.

Parents, I appeal to you, raise your children correctly. Let them know Santa is not real, he is just a story but that all good gifts come down from the Father of Lights. That you give presents to show your love and to reflect the love God has shown you, Pastors, take a stand. Keep Christ in your church and leave Santa to those who do not know Christ, who worship materialism, secularism and self. Ground your people, especially the youngest and most impressionable, in truth and love by grounding them in Christ.

Our God is a jealous God, He will not share His glory with another. Especially not Santa, especially not with His Bride, the church. .

Hanukkah Lessons

During this season of celebration named Hanukkah, there are many lessons we can learn. The Festival of Lights, while a holiday pretty much exclusively celebrated by Jews, should be held in high esteem by Christians as well. (Also by Muslims if they were honest but that is a different thought for another time). The miracle of God extending the oil so that the menorah remained lit until more oil could be made ready for use, was a great miracle indeed. It showed that God was with His children and pleased with them and their zeal for His Holy Name. That was only one of the miracles God performed, though. The entire Maccabean rebellion should have been crushed by the overwhelming forces arrayed against them. God’s granting victory to them is reminiscent of the victories during the time of the Judges. Jesus observed the festival (John 10:22-23) as did His disciples. What could possibly be wrong with a festival honoring God’s provision and care?
We are reminded during this time that God cares for His people. He provides for His people. He protects His people. He remembers His people. He helps His people. It would be a good idea for everyone to read 1 and 2 Maccabees and learn of God’s care for His people during the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments.
It is also a good time to speak with our Jewish friends. To celebrate with them the miracles of God. To use this time as a bridge to communicating with them how Jesus is the Light of the World. That the God of Lights, who delights in giving His children good gifts, gave one in the form of His Son.
Wish them a Happy Hanukkah. Teach the meaning of the holiday to your children. Remind yourself that candles are not lit to shine in the home. They are meant to shine out, to tell others of the miracles of God. Let that be a lesson to take home – that the best way to honor God is to tell others about His greatness.