Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christianity Is Faith In Action

 Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know?

In your palace warm mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold...

This article will have two parts. First, some comments about the Christmas holiday itself, and then some practical, year-round observations.

The war on Christmas seems to get more intense every year. Atheist organizations put up billboards mocking Christmas (and Christians), which is a brilliant move to improve the image of atheists. (Good without God? Nope. Waste of money? Yup.) Christmas cards from school children to troops are banned by the US Department of Veterans Affairs for having "religious" content. Santa Monica, California, bans their 60-year nativity tradition. Many merchants are unfriendly to Christmas, and customers are encouraged to avoid them. A Mohammedan bigot says that saying "Merry Christmas" is a terrible crime. And so on.

In my own experience, we have an Axis of Christmas Evil: Atheists, cultists and sanctimonious Christians ridicule those of us who have the freedom to celebrate Christmas by using bad history and worse biblical exegesis. No, it is not based on the pagan holiday of Saturnalia. No, it is not loaded with pagan origins. No, Jeremiah 10.2-4 does not forbid Christmas trees (especially since the use of Christmas trees did not appear in history until about the 1500s). Yes, some pagan elements have crept in. Yes, secularism has helped take away the true meaning of Christmas, and Christians need to keep a proper perspective. There is a great deal of accurate historical research about these topics, so I do not need to discuss them any longer. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Oh, yes. One more thing on that. It seems that, to be consistent, if someone says that we cannot celebrate Christmas because of "pagan origins", they should also avoid certain names days and months. I am writing this on Woden's Day (Wednesday), and I have to go back to work on Thor's Day (Thursday) and Frigg's Day (Friday; Frigg is a variant of the Roman goddess Venus). Then I have Saturn Day and Sun Day off again. Get the idea?

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– things which are a [mere] shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
— Col. 2:16-17 NASB

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
— Rom. 14:5-6 NIV

And now for the main point: Christianity is supposed to be practical. I was discussing the song lyrics quoted above with my wife. One day, it struck me how instead of bringing silver and gold to the child that shivers in the cold, how about a blanket? Then I saw a cartoon that echoed my sentiments, and so this article had to be written.

Some misotheists who visit The Question Evolution Project and other Christian places will say that we are motivated by fear of punishment to do good works. That is slander. A born-from-above Christian is a new creation (2 Cor. 5.17), and is to be filled with the Holy Spirit on an ongoing basis (Gal. 5.16), and the "fruit of the Spirit" is to show in our daily lives (Gal. 5.22-23). Our faith is shown by our works (James 2.18, James 2.26), which will justify us before men. Sure, there are some people who are impossible to please, always finding fault with the follower of Jesus because they want to please their father (John 8.44) and their eyes are blinded by him to the truth (1 Cor. 2.14). Even so, we are to meet the needs of others out of genuine Christian compassion, first helping fellow believers (Gal. 6.10) and seeking to glorify God out of a natural outpouring of the Spirit within us (1 Peter 3.16-18, Matt. 5.14-16) and not self-glorification (Matt. 6.2), and not to earn or keep our salvation (Eph. 2.8-9, John 10.27-29).

The real Christian is motivated by the Spirit to do good works to help others and to glorify God. This does not come from fear of punishment, but because we are new creations. Now, will someone please give that cold child a blanket? He is the Creator, you know (Col. 1.16, John 1.1, John 1.3). Then we can be a blessing to others for the glory of Jesus.
— Cowboy Bob Sorensen



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