If you celebrate Christmas for some reason other than Christ’s birth, please forego this post.  It will be meaningless to you and may just make you wonder how silly Christians can be anyway (Truthfully, pretty silly sometimes.  Thankfully, God is big enough to cover all the gaps and flaws we have.)  To you, I hope someday Christmas will be a bigger part of your life than it is this year and that you will know God for who He is and not for the pathetically inaccurate picture you get from His followers sometimes.  The end, and have a wonderful holiday.

To the rest of us…

I want to do this gently.  Because while I could pull Jude’s “CONTEND FOR THE TRUTH” out and paste it on a banner to wave as I charge into every petty controversy from whether Christmas is a pagan holiday to whether King James is the only version worth reading to whether alcohol today is the same as it was in Christ’s time all the while swinging my truth sword as hard as possible, I’m fairly certain from the CONTEXT of that very brief portion of Jude that these examples were not the ‘truths’ he meant for us to contend to the death over. (GASP!  Preposition at the end!  Contend for the truth that this is wretched grammar!)

You may have noticed the obvious attention getting techniques I deployed on the words “Contend for the Truth” and “Context”. 

I think we (me too!) do wave that banner in many instances where, like Israel when they tried to take Canaan on their own power and were utterly defeated, God is simply not on our side.  I mean, we may be right that wine is the only permissible liquid for communion or that our music needs to be more/less hip and our sanctuary more/less red/blue/chartreuse/teal.  But it’s possible to be on right side of the fight, but that you are marching under your own steam and not at all according to God’s directions.  The whole plank/speck thing comes into play here.  Before you correct someone else’s theological misconceptions over whether the pastor should wear a special stole or not, make sure the planks of ‘unloving’ or ‘rebellion’ aren’t obscuring your vision of the route/timing God wants you to take.  So, this is me saying… I hope I’m debating in love.  Sadly, our hearts are less than knowable, so if there’s a bit of pride or frustration in there, try your best to overlook it.

The other word I tried to subtly draw your eyes to was context.  For example: “Before you actually do print out a ‘contend for the truth’ banner and tell everyone I told you to do so, please note the context of the passage and try to divine the author’s ultimate intent.” Or how about “Honestly, the context of the Ezekiel Bread verse makes me think of it as more of a curse than a good addition to my diet.” 

You’ve probably all heard the joke about the guy who was trying to live the Bible literally, so he pointed at random to a passage and found “Judas went and hung himself” which didn’t sound right, pointed again and found “Go and do thou likewise”.   Out of context, verses of the Bible are at best nonsensical and at worst dangerous!

Now that my disclaimers/don’t try this at home notifications are out of the way…

Apparently the new? thing this year (new to me, I don’t remember seeing this… twice in the same evening… and several more times over the course of a few days) is to explain how Jeremiah 10 makes Christmas trees unbiblical at best and anti-Christian at worst.   I can see how, at first glance, this could be misleading:  Here it is and in KJV just in case:

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Wow.  The Bible talks about CHRISTMAS TREES!  

Oh wait, there’s more to that portion….

they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne (*this means carried, not birthed for all you heathen Non-KJV people), because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

This is sounding less and less like a Christmas tree…  And a little further down (what, if you want the full text, you can look it up like I did, consider this the highlights to encourage you to read the rest)

Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king:

Well… now I’m completely lost if I’m thinking Christmas tree… but just a LITTLE further down we find:

11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

And suddenly it all comes together to evidence that the description above is meant to be of IDOLS.  IDOLS made from trees, cut down and polished by hands of humans.  Idols that cannot speak or do either evil or good and are adorned in silver and gold.  Huh.  Not really matching my description of a Christmas tree.  At all. 

Are Christmas trees idols?  Not in my house.  In my house they are symbols.  We don’t worship the tree anymore than Joshua and Israel worshipped the rock they put up in Joshua 24 (Oh. My. Word…. they made a stone idol!??!)

NO.  They did not.  They used a stone as a marker, a symbol.   If you really want to get riled up about idols, check out the snake on a pole voodoo thing Moses pulled.  Oh.  That wasn’t voodoo?  That was a symbol?  Sanctioned by God?  To make a point?  OOOOOOH!!!  Nevertheless, it sounds a great deal more like an idol than the modern Christmas tree does. 

You know what else can be an idol?  The desire to do everything perfectly or at least better and more Biblically than everyone else and seeking out obscure ways to think better of ourselves than we ought.  “I don’t have a Christmas tree… you ‘like the heathen’ Christian you.”  So is the idol of ‘being right’ which I worship at far too often.  Just ask my husband who recently said (this is out of context so no judging him by these words!) Success is achieved when you bring joy to others and quit keeping score.  I quickly informed him that people who don’t like to keep score, probably don’t want to keep score because they are LOSING and went on to impress upon him that he would probably like that definition of success because of the vast (slight? exaggeration) number of pronunciation/definition debates I had been RIGHT on when he was WRONG.  If you didn’t recognize it before, you now have evidence that I’m a gracious sort of person.

Admittedly, it could be that some of the Jeremiah 10 quoters are stepping up to the plate because they want to save their brothers/sisters from error.  There is a lot of that going around: “I just learned that drinking from a plastic cup will kill you, you have to stop immediately!” “If you don’t sign this petition against global warming outhouse gas reductions in the middle east you will regret it later!”  “You shouldn’t let your baby cry it out, he’ll become a serial killer later in life!”  and so on.  And so forth. And to those people who are thus motivated, thank you.  Thank you for caring enough about our souls, happiness, and/or future regret that you are willing to risk awkward silences or weird looks.  No.  that wasn’t sarcasm.  The motive for which you are doing what you do is admirable enough that those of us who disagree with you could stand to be less cranky and more appreciative of the heart behind it.  We could, as it were, not look on the outward appearance which may seem goofy to us, and look instead on the heart behind it.   And I can admire you for being strong enough to stand for your beliefs.  My caution being that anytime you throw something out there whether it be an opinion or a selfie, you’re inviting comment/feedback/disagreement/disapproval.  If your love for us isn’t strong enough to weather those consequences, just don’t.  Bide your time.  For my part, I promise not to stop loving any of you who disagree or disapprove of this post and the opinions therein. 

All that said, I certainly applaud those who are convicted that Christmas trees are not Biblical and thus don’t have a Christmas tree.  In this area at least, they put to shame those of us who know that lying and gossip are sins and continue to do it anyway, or who get their panties in a twist over someone else’s opinion and neglect to do what we know is right because we’re too busy correcting what someone else knows is right because it’s wrong… right fellow cranky Christians?  

 

 

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