Monday, March 28, 2016

42457:: In response

My reply: Does it bother me that Easter traces its lineage to a pagan holiday? Not in the least! However, it does bother me that those who are followers of the Most High God celebrate “Easter”, admit that it is a pagan holiday, and then claim to do so in His name. Even those who call it “Resurrection Day” seem to have no problem with a church putting on a Pancake Breakfast and Easter Egg hunt on in order to bring more people in to “hear the gospel.”

There seems to be a disconnect in people’s minds when it comes to going along with tradition versus obeying the God they believe in. They take great pains to explain that the pagan meaning of a holiday no longer means the same to them. They even go so far as to claim that Jesus has redeemed a pagan celebration. But is that what God really says? What did Jesus actually say about it?

  • If you love me, keep my commands. John 14:15
  • My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. John 7:16
  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

That sounds to me like Jesus is saying he is not changing the game. He did not come to invent a new religion, but to help us understand how God wants to have a relationship with us… on His terms. We don’t make the rules, and it’s not for us to change the rules. We are not God, He is.

So then, what exactly does God have to say about how we are to relate to and worship Him?

  • You must not worship the Lord your God in their way (talking about the pagans here… I don’t hear Him saying anything about “redeeming” their worship practices), because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. Deuteronomy 12:31

Think He was just talking to “The Jews” when He said that?
Read on:
  • The community (also translated as ‘congregation’) is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.’” Numbers 15:15-16
It would seem that God doesn’t differentiate between Jews and non-Jews when it comes to living set-apart lives devoted to Him. That lines up with what the Apostle Paul said not once, but twice in Romans: “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.”

Yet I think it’s important for us to acknowledge why the Israelites were sent into exile, not once, but several times… it was because they ignored God’s instructions for how He wanted them to relate to Him. They incorporated pagan practices into their worship. He had singled out the children of Israel, He set them apart to show the rest of the world how to relate to our Creator. But they got distracted and lost sight of their calling.

Bottom line: It is not up to us, it is not up to the Church Fathers, it’s not up to tradition to alter what God said. If we truly believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, if we truly believe it when we say that the whole Bible is true and is our guidebook for life, wouldn’t we do well to examine what God actually has to say? He doesn’t mince words when He warns us to have nothing to do with pagan practices:
  • “Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the Lord. For the time will surely come when I will punish the idols of Babylon; her whole land will be disgraced and her slain will all lie fallen within her. Jeremiah 51:45, 47
  • Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues. Revelation 18:4
Personally, I just can’t rationalize that away. The argument that the names of the days of the weeks (and months of the year) are after false gods is irrelevant. We are not worshipping false gods or our own God when we differentiate between one day and the next. Yes, God can redeem what’s lost through the power of His resurrection. He sent His only Son to redeem His lost sheep. He said nothing about redeeming pagan practices. We are adding to His words when we claim that He has said something that He did not say.
  • Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. Deuteronomy 4:2 - and, See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. Deuteronomy 12:32.
If the Lord thought it was important enough to say twice, I believe we would do well to listen to Him.

If we are relying on the institutional church to bombard non-church goers twice a year with “the good news” in hopes of bringing them into the Kingdom, then we are failing miserably at the calling of the Great Commission to go forth and make disciples. Jesus did not say “sit there and invite people to church and I hereby absolve you of the job I have given you.” We are called to let [our] light shine before others, that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

Not my words, but Jesus.

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