Monday, December 13, 2010

Christian Mythology: 17. Holidays – Myth: Of course we should celebrate all Christian holidays

The chapter titles in this book should cause you to think before you read on. I carefully selected the words to accomplish two things. First, the words seem completely normal and accepted language. Yet the provoking word “myth” precedes every chapter heading. Why? To achieve the second purpose of breaking apart, if just a little bit, the stronghold of belief.

If Christmas is anything, to many the word “believe” sums it up. Of course the battle rages between the Santa and sacred camps to believe in him or Him. That’s not what this myth is about. But first I backtrack a bit to the title again.

Focus on the words celebrate, Christian, and holidays. Last two first. There are no Christian holidays. You will not find them in the Bible. Beyond the historical fact of one-time occurrence, what we call holidays like Christmas and Easter, they are nothing more. God never sanctioned them as annual memorials, milestones of remembrance, or repeatable acts. Their historical and spiritual importance stand on the fact of God’s great work and grace. The only New Testament event which God endorses as memorial, milestone, and repeatable is the Lord’s Supper. Why didn’t we make that into a holiday?

There are very specific reasons why certain events became holidays. I won’t go into them here. I’ll leave that to scholars like Frank Viola and his book “Pagan Christianity”. Let’s go back to the title word “celebrate”. This is one of those contemporary buzzwords in church. Stick it with words like “awesome, like, and ya know.” It’s just as grating. We do things like celebrate the death of a saint (their homegoing); we celebrate the Lord’s death and future coming at communion; we celebrate the birth of our Savior; we celebrate all things Biblical if we can find sufficient reason and funds.

A certain organization proposes to build a theme park which will celebrate the great flood. They want to build a life-size ark, parade the animals in two-by-two every day, and have actors mix with the crowd, giving visitors an interactive experience beyond compare.

I’ll say. If the experience remains at all true to the Bible, no one will walk out of the park alive. When the flood came, every living thing outside the ark perished. Yet we are expected to celebrate this judgment of God? Meanwhile, the sacred camp sees the happy bluebirds singing, the beautiful rainbow, the animals leaving the ark three-by-three. PTL! Another great opportunity to share the gospel with the world. Millions will be saved.

We feel the same way about Christmas and Easter. Put on a big show to attract the C&E crowd. This may be our only chance to witness to them. Why do we think this way? Why? Why can’t we witness to them the other 364 days of the year? What are we doing that is so important that we are willing to let dead souls lie until the next big celebration event? Why do we think God needs any help creating a spectacular event to attract sinners to Jesus? To me, nothing is greater than seeing a person come to Jesus alone, broken, repentant, and in the end, alive.

Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” I say, “Give me Jesus and put all else to death.” Jesus doesn’t want celebrations and shows. He wants sinners, broken people, shattered lives, evil men and women without hope.

There is only one celebration I look forward to. One day, Jesus will host His wedding feast. I’ll be there. I don’t expect any actors there. Jesus said they will be cast out. He can tell them by their outfits. They will have no wedding garments on. I don’t expect any fireworks or lights there. Jesus will be there in all His glory to light the great hall. I don’t expect any rehearsed script. Jesus will complete that which was written from eternity – the marriage supper of the Lamb and finally, the creation of the new heaven and new earth. I hope somebody doesn’t try to build one of those in Orlando.

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