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Pagan Revelry

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by SueJLove, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Tuesday, December 04, 2012, 8:09 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with this song:

    Blessed Are You / An Original Work / August 29, 2012

    Based off Luke 6:20-49 NIV 1984

    “Blessed are you;
    Blessed are you who are poor
    For God’s kingdom is yours.
    Blessed are you;
    Blessed are you who are hungry,
    You’ll be satisfied.


    Blessed are you;
    Blessed are you who weep now,
    For you will laugh with joy.
    Blessed are you;
    Blessed are you when men hate
    And reject you because of Christ.”


    The subject of the celebration of Christmas came up this morning before I read my passage of scripture for the day. I am reading in the Psalms, and today’s passage was Psalm 12. So, as I went into my time of reading this morning, I asked the Lord what my response should be to people who ask about the celebration of Christmas. I prayed, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then I read Psalm 12. When I got to verse 8, this is what stood out to me:

    The word “vile” stood out to me, and then the Lord immediately put this phrase in my mind, “pagan revelry.” I believe God sees, and has always seen in the history of mankind, “pagan revelry” as “vile.”

    I wanted to understand what this all meant, and how it related to my inquiry about what my response should be to the subject of the celebration of Christmas, so I looked up some of these terms in the dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com) . Vile means “loathsome, disgusting, objectionable, offensive, wicked, shameful or evil.” A pagan is a supporter (sticking or holding to) polytheistic (more than one god) religion, “especially when viewed in contrast to an adherent (supporter) of a monotheistic (only one god) religion.” And, revelry is “boisterous, noisy or unrestrained merrymaking; pleasure and good times, with connotations of carousing and self-indulgence.”

    The Christmas Connection

    So, what does this all have to do with the celebration of Christmas? Well, let’s look at what all the celebration of Christmas entails. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, what do you spend most of your time, thoughts and energies on in this celebration? What is Christmas to you? What is the main focus of Christmas in our society? And, what does the word of God have to say about celebrating Christ’s birth?

    Christmas, in our society, is primarily about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, lights, decorations, Santa’s stockings, greed, commercialism, and presents, etc. So, who is Santa? He is an aberration. He is made up. Yet, he sees all, knows all and he can be all over the world at everyone’s homes all in one night. Who does this sound like? Yes, you are right: God Almighty. He is the only one who is all knowing, all powerful, and has the ability to be everywhere at all times. So, who is the great imitator of God who wanted to be God? Satan. He parades himself as an “angel of light” to deceive minds and hearts. Ever notice the similarity between the names “Santa” and “Satan”? Santa is of Satan and Satan’s goal is to be God in the hearts and minds of all people, but especially in the hearts and minds of professing followers of Jesus Christ. He wants nothing more than to steal the hearts and minds of naïve people, especially young children, away from God and to another god.

    Is He the Reason?

    Christmas is often marketed as the celebration of Christ’s birth, i.e. that “He is the reason for the season.” Is he really? Let’s look at that. How do we celebrate Jesus’ birth? Some people will tell you it is with the giving of presents to one another, just like the wise men gave gifts to Jesus or just like God gave us the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. Well, for one, the wise men did not visit Jesus when he was born. He was probably a child of two years old when they visited him, and they were not coming to celebrate his birthday, per se, but to give honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords, the promised Messiah of the people of God. They were giving honor to the Savior of mankind, and they honored him with these costly gifts. Also, the giving of God’s Son is the giving of salvation to mankind (Jn 3:16).

    So, when we give each other gifts, is this truly giving honor to God/Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords and as the Savior of mankind? If it is, in your thinking, then how do you believe this is accomplished? Do you think God is truly pleased with this gift giving of ours on this holiday? And, how is this similar in nature to what God did for us in giving us Jesus? If we want to respond in like manner, then instead of giving each other gifts, most of which we don’t really need, then we should be sharing the gospel of Jesus with the unsaved. That is why Jesus came! And, that is why he died on the cross. The greatest gift we can give, then, is the gift of God’s Son to those who have not yet believed in Jesus as Savior.

    Should we celebrate Christ’s birth?

    How did Jesus say we should remember him and honor him? He said we should honor him and remember him through the remembrance of his death, not his birth. And, the way in which we remember his death is through the taking of communion, not just the taking of it in the sense of taking a sacrament in a ritualistic sense, but as Paul described in 1 Co. 11:



    There is a sense, thus, in which this participation in the Lord’s Supper is not merely the sharing in the drinking of the vine and the eating of the bread, but it is a participation in the meaning of these symbols in reality in how we live our lives. For Jesus, the juice of the vine and the bread represented his blood and body which were given for us on the cross of Christ for our sins, so that we could be set free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and so we could be set free from slavery to sin (day-to-day). So, when we come to the Lord’s Table in remembrance of him, we are not merely recalling his death, but we are choosing to partake (drink and eat) with him in his death, which communion symbolizes, and in his resurrection, in death to our sins and in resurrection to new lives in Christ. This is why it is critical that we examine our hearts, not just in communion services, but all the time, to make sure that we have forsaken our lives of sin, and we are walking in obedience to Christ in all ways all the time. This is the kind of worship and honor of Jesus that he desires:

    Who gets Top Billing?

    This (the above scriptures) is the kind of “gift giving” that God approves. It is not that he is against us giving each other gifts, I don’t believe, but I don’t believe the way we do gifts and the way we celebrate Christmas in our culture is what he desires, and in fact, I believe he sees it as “vile” and as “pagan revelry,” because it is a blend of the worship of Santa, greed, and a pagan holiday with the celebration of Jesus, only Jesus does not get top billing in this celebration. Think with me about that for a moment.

    Look at your decorations for Christmas. Do you have a tree beautifully decorated with all kinds of trimmings? Are there lots of gifts underneath the tree? Who are these gifts for? What do they represent? Do you have Santa stockings hanging by your fireplace? Do you have images of Santa and his reindeer displayed in your house? And, where is Jesus in all of this? Do you buy a bunch of gifts you can’t afford for people who don’t really need them because tradition dictates that we should do this in celebration of Jesus? How does any of this give honor and praise to God/Jesus?

    And, do you also have a manger scene displayed in your house along with Santa? Then, this is a celebration of a false god and the true God side-by-side, which is what God chided his children about all throughout history. And, how is Jesus pictured? He is pictured as a helpless baby in a lowly manger. Whose birthdays do we celebrate with images of what we looked like as babies? - Only Jesus’. I believe this is purposeful. Why?

    Children, in particular, will see Jesus as a helpless baby who does what for them? And, they will see Santa as all powerful, all knowing, and can be all places at all times, and who brings them presents. What is wrong with this picture? Do you see the deception here? And, the two are celebrated together side-by-side. Even if you don’t do the Santa thing, you, perhaps, are still celebrating the birth of Jesus in a manner which has pagan roots, and which has nothing to do with Jesus Christ at all, and that minimizes who he truly is while on the same day an “all powerful, all knowing and omnipresent Santa” steals the hearts and minds of young children, because he brings them presents. How can you top that?

    And, then we lie to our children and we tell them that Santa is real, even though they can’t really see him, so is that of God? And, we use terminology like “I believe in Santa.” And, then we tell our children to believe in Jesus, whom they also cannot see. Oh, what trickery Satan has concocted to get us to believe we are truly celebrating the life of Jesus when all we are doing is falling prey to a lie of Satan.

    The Challenge

    You don’t have to believe this, obviously, because I said it, but I pray that each person reading this today would prayerfully and honestly before God examine what has been shared here today in light of God’s word, and that you would inquire of God as to how he views our celebrations of Christmas. God gave us the gift of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on a cross for our sins. The best way we can celebrate the life of Jesus is to honor him with our lives, and to share the truth of his gospel with a world in need of the Savior. Will you pray and ask God if he is pleased with your celebration of him?

    Sing Praises / An Original Work / November 30, 2012

    Based off Psalms 6-9

    Sing praises to the Lord!
    Tell of His wond’rous works.
    Afflicted, they cry out;
    The Lord will not forget;
    The needy, not desert.


    The Lord’s our refuge now;
    A stronghold when we fear.
    The Lord will ne’er forsake
    The ones, who Him pursue!


    Sing praises to the Lord!
    With all my heart I sing.
    I will rejoice in Him;
    Sing praises to His name;
    Tell of His wond’rous works.


    My shield is God Most High.
    He saves those who believe
    In Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
    His grace has pardoned you!


    The Lord accepts my prayer!
    The Lord has heard my cries.
    He is so merciful.
    He heals my anguished soul.
    The Lord has made me whole.


    Give thanks unto the Lord.
    Give praise unto His name.
    Our Lord is righteousness.
    Sing praises to the Lord!
    Sing praises to the Lord!


    http://originalworks.info/sing-praises-2/

    Blessed Are You: http://originalworks.info/blessed-are-you/

    Note: All scripture references are taken from the NIV 1984.
     
  2. #2 Roads, Dec 12, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013
    You may be interested in the discussion we've had here:
    http://www.christianforumsite.com/t...t-be-celebrated-or-rejected-you-decide.36248/

    I won't criticize what you've said about idolatry, because in some ways, Christmas is this hedonistic celebration of the greed, consumerism and materialism embraced by our culture, and it's very easy for Christians to get caught up in that form of idolatry (as a way of life, not just during Christmas). However, I think that many Christians will find themselves compelled, recognizing real need in their communities, to participate in Christmas alongside pagans, and not sinning in doing so. The linked thread is a lot to sort through, so in response to your very fair and pertinent question, "How does any of this give honor and praise to God," I'll just copy/paste one of my own posts from it I think is relevant:

    As Christians, we're ambassadors from God's kingdom living in these secular societies. Christmas is a festival that these secular societies celebrate. For me, I just recognize that the people around me are celebrating Christmas, and I try to recognize their needs and serve them.

    For some Christians, this might mean donating toys to families who can't afford them. Or maybe it could mean having people over who don't have friends and family, and giving them a warm, welcoming place for Christmas. Christmas is the time of year that has the highest suicide rates, because there is so much loneliness, isolation and broken families in our communities. That's a real need in our communities we could be meeting at Christmas time, and why shouldn't Christians be the ones forging the way forward to meet those needs?

    For me, there are a lot of broken families in my extended family, and lots of kids without fathers. If I didn't celebrate Christmas with them, from their perception, I'd just be another man in their life who abandons them at a time when togetherness and family are important to them. I want to be a father to the fatherless in my family, so I celebrate their Christmas with them. They're not Christians, but if I make a special time in the day to tell them the story of Christ's birth, they'll happily listen to me tell it, and it's one of the few times of the year the adults in my family will let my wife and I talk about God with the kids without them complaining about it, or insulting us for what we believe. So why would I pass up an opportunity like that?

    I don't think it's really all that helpful to worry about whether we should accept or reject the celebration of Christmas. Instead, shouldn't we simply recognize the fact that people around us are celebrating it, and look for ways to be ambassadors for Christ, serving the real needs of the people around us at Christmas?

    I'll also add that celebrating Christmas with my unbelieving family gives me an opportunity to model the peace of a Christian by being content with and genuinely grateful for gifts, being moderate in eating, celebrating family and togetherness instead of materialism, and being a loving alternative to the hostility and strife they normally observe in their family's interactions.
     
  3. Roads, I shared what the Lord Jesus taught me and convicted my heart concerning the celebration of Christmas because I do believe scripture strongly teaches against followers of Christ (God's people) participating in pagan practices, rituals, etc., and for all the other reasons I stated. Each one of us must go before God and ask him to show us how he views our Christmas celebrations and whether or not he is pleased with them. Nonetheless, with regard to what you have shared here, I would say that if you truly believe Christmas is a pagan holiday which gives glory to idolatry and what is actually anti-Christ, then I would suggest that you should not compromise that conviction in order to minister Christ's love to others. If people are in need and they are lonely, that is not just one day a year. Help them out all throughout the year and aside from the celebration of Christmas. Ask the Lord to show you ways in which you can share him with family members aside from compromising your faith via participating in what you know is pagan.
     
  4. You are absolutely right, believers shouldn't do anything they think gives glory to idolatry. I don't celebrate Christmas as a pagan ritual, and I have no conviction whatsoever that it is inherently and indelibly linked to anything "pagan," although I am aware of how it's predominantly practiced. I participate in it with a totally clean conscience, which follows from my understanding of the teaching in 1 Cor 8 and 1 Cor 10:14-33.

    1 Cor 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

    My conviction, that I don't want to compromise, is to "do all to the glory of God." If your question about Christmas is "How does any of this give honor and praise to God," then I have an answer that satisfies my own conscience, "for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?" 1 Cor 10:29-30. If I thought that my participation in Christmas would glorify idolatry in some way, or cause another believer to stumble, I wouldn't do it. I appreciate you sharing your conviction, I don't want to invalidate that or suggest that conviction isn't from God, but God lays different passions on different Christians for His own reasons, and you're absolutely right, if something compromises your conscience, you shouldn't do it.

    Fair enough. Would you be okay with it if God showed someone something different from what He showed to you?
     
  5. In the case of "disputable matters," yes! Yet, I don't believe this falls into the category of "disputable matters," so I would have to say "No" on this one. Christmas is based in Syncretism, i.e. the blending or mixture of religion or beliefs, or of what is pagan with what is spiritual (of God), or what is antichrist with what is Christ-like. God, all throughout Biblical history, has forbidden that. He said for us to "come out from them and be separate," and "what fellowship has light with darkness?" I believe God views the celebration of Christmas as "pagan revelry," so if I truly believe that, then how could I be ok with followers of Christ participating in the celebration? Yet, I am not God, so all I can do is share my convictions I received from my Lord and appeal to my readers to prayerfully consider what I am sharing here, and then I have to leave it to each individual to wrestle with this before God. My husband and I celebrated Christmas for 60 years before we finally made the decision together to no longer participate, based upon what we believe scripture teaches, so I am not here to condemn those who choose to participate but only to appeal to you to please inquire of the Lord to see whether or not he is pleased with your celebrations. This was a very hard decision for us because we have 4+4 adult children and 12 grandchildren, and they had been accustomed to us celebrating with them each year, so we did not make this decision lightly. So, again I just ask that you inquire of the Lord, in light of the teachings of scripture, and ask him if he is pleased. And, I leave it at that.
     
  6. #6 Roads, Dec 13, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
    I came from the opposite direction from you. I came from deliberately not celebrating Christmas to being convicted to celebrate Christmas through inquiry of the Lord, in light of the teachings of scripture.

    Well, hopefully you can be okay with it knowing that I participate in Christmas with absolutely no consciousness of any idol whatsoever. To "come out of them and be separate" is exactly what I make conscious decisions to do and demonstrate when I participate in Christmas with people, to be a light in the darkness. So when I read that we are to "come out of them and be separate," I read that I am not to devote my life to materialism as they do, pursuing hedonism and the accumulation of wealth instead of a life of humility and service to God. I do not read that I'm not to have a meal with my family on a day they call "Christmas," not exchange gifts on that day and not wear a red hat with a pom pom on that day.

    If it helps you, think of it this way: I do not celebrate Christmas at all. But when my pagan community and my pagan family celebrate Christmas, I recognize that they have needs unique to that day, and, for the glory of God, I try to help meet their unique needs, just as I would any other day. Culturally, Christmas is a time for family, and the reality of my nieces and nephews is that they have a particular need to feel part of a loving family on that particular day. Eating a meal with them, giving them a modest gift, spending time with them and telling them the story of Jesus' birth is "pagan revelry?" Let's just leave that one with the jury for the moment. What I do on Christmas day really has nothing at all to do with me celebrating anything. It has everything to do with being God's servant to a pagan world. I'd rather not "participate" in Christmas at all, because frankly, it's a lot of work and not particularly enjoyable for me. My family is completely insane. It's not a fun time, believe me. I do it precisely because I have "wrestled with God" about it, and this is the conviction He's laid on my heart.

    My neighbour notes that there are several people in our neighborhood who are consistently alone on Christmas. You're absolutely right, as Christians, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of such people all year, every day. But they have unique needs on Christmas day. Culturally, Christmas is a special day for friends and family, togetherness, generosity. So, every year on Christmas, my neighbour has a barbecue in his back yard, and anyone who's alone can come. They have a meal. There are Christmas lights, a decorated tree, santa hats, they sing carols. I am going to walk into his back yard, insist that he research the origins of each of these traditions and insist that the original meaning of those things is forever the meaning, and hasn't anyone ever told him that Christmas is based in Syncretism, and doesn't he realize he's promoting pagan revelry? Hardly. He's giving some lonely people a friendly place to be together on the one day when their loneliness is perhaps the most deeply felt.

    Alright, so you're suggesting there's a rule that we're not meant to "Syncretize." Okay, fair enough. The Jews knew a rule that they weren't supposed to work on the Sabbath. "So if I truly believe that, then how could I be ok with followers of [God]" working on the Sabbath? Matthew 2:11 He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? Let me assure you, on Christmas day, there are some sheep fallen into pits, and who's to say that God won't lay convictions on his people's hearts to take hold of them and lift them out? The reality that some people live on Christmas is that they have a real need unique to that day. So who's getting top billing in my neighbour's back yard on Christmas? And who's getting top billing in my interactions with my family? I can guarantee you: it's God.

    I'm not trying to change your mind about your convictions. I am trying to say, let's be the church, and let God speak to each of us how He wants to speak to each of us. God does what He wants. If He wants to be glorified in our communities on Christmas day, He's going to lay convictions on his people's hearts in various ways to bring about that end. Who's to say He won't do that?
     
  7. Roads, I appreciate you taking the time to share your journey with me. Each of us must follow what we believe the word of God teaches in this matter. I have shared what I believe scripture teaches in this matter of celebration of this holiday and you have countered with why you believe it is ok for you to participate in the celebration, using scripture as your basis. It is obvious that we will not agree on this, but this is not something that would hinder me from fellowship with you, and I believe that is truly at the heart of your question. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts, and thank you, too, for the loving and respectful manner in which you disagreed with me, too. May The Lord Jesus continue to grow us and to mature us in him.
     

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