Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Hypocrisy of Keeping Christmas

For those who keep Christmas who have no true faith in Jesus, the thought of speaking about Jesus at any other time of year, apart from Easter, or at the most in church on Sunday, perhaps, is usually repugnant. It will offend them if you tell them that you don't keep Christmas, or mention Jesus in a daily context.
To them, Jesus must be kept under man’s control, like a lion at the zoo.
On certain days, when it's sunny, one may visit the zoo and have a look at the lion, confident in the knowledge that he is being kept under control by the keeper, who feeds him at the appropriate times, and otherwise provides services for both the lion and its spectators. But the spectators have no direct contact with the lion, and should he roar from time to time, the spectators are suitably impressed. Should the lion escape from the cage, or, God forbid!, someone be killed by the lion, the keeper, of course, will be blamed and one might even attempt to get rid of the lion, or the keeper, or at the very least, introduce measures to restrict the lion’s movements, increase the height of the fence around the enclosure, erect notices warning zoo visitors that the lion is a dangerous, wild animal, and should never be fed by individuals, but only by the zoo-keeper. Visitors should, at all times keep their distance, as only the zoo-keeper is trained to deal with the lion.
Intrepid individuals, however, for whom zoos present an environment in which a lion cannot be enjoyed in its authentic habitat, will take the time and travel at considerable expense to Africa and walk out into the savannah themselves where there is no keeper to constrain the lion. These people love adventure, are not afraid to take risks, and prefer observing a lion in the wild to one in a zoo. They know that if they show no fear, and take the necessary precautions, the lion will not hurt them.
The inference has already been made by C.S. Lewis that ‘Aslan is not a tame lion’. But I am digressing.
Those who DO keep Christmas, who DO have faith in Jesus, are faced with several challenges.
1.     Christmas is rooted in pagan beliefs and was officially syncretised by the Roman Catholic Church around the end of the 4th century AD, after Constantine the Great made Christianity legal, popular, and commercial. It was impossible to stamp out the worship of Apollo, Mithras and Zoroaster, so sun-god worship was simply amalgamated into official public religion, by outlawing or inhibiting adherence to Jewish tradition and worship (because of a wrong reaction to the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as their Messiah) including prohibition from following the Biblical, Hebrew calendar (so Sun-day worship instead of keeping the Sabbath, and keeping Easter instead of Passover became the norm.) The Celtic church continued to keep the Hebrew traditions of the Apostle John until Rome sent Augustine to the British Isles and the British were forced eventually to adopt Roman ways at the Synod of Whitby in AD 664.
2.       Jesus was obviously not born in December. A study of scripture makes this clear. It is probable that He was born during the Hebrew Feast of Succoth, in September or October.
3.       Simply because Christmas is a syncretisation of pagan practice with organised religion, it is a worldly, flesh-pleasing tradition with no benefit to the one seeking to put the Lord first in all things. Jesus said, ‘… the flesh counts for nothing…’ (John 6:63)
4.       Even those who claim that Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ (saying that it doesn’t matter when it is celebrated) agree that commercialism and materialism have ‘ruined the spirit of Christmas.’ They find it a challenge to combat these realities, but the fact remains that spending money on and preparing presents, food, drink and celebrations, as well as coming up to the expectations of others, makes the time coming up to Christmas a stressful experience, quite different from the hope which many have, that ‘Advent’ will be a time when one can quietly contemplate spiritual things.
5.       It is necessary to LIE to children at this time, claiming that a crimson-robed, imaginary figure called Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Nikolaus (or in Germany,  a pretty, blond, female angel called the Christkind) etc. exists, who either brings presents for those who have been good, or a rod for the backsides of those who have been bad. (This vindictive idea is about as far as you can get from the good news about the grace and forgiveness of God.)
This Being is supposed to live at the North Pole, employs hordes of present-packing elves, and flies through the sky in every time-zone at once, on a present-laden sledge pulled by reindeer, (one of which has a very red nose) to millions of houses in one night, entering by the chimney, (even if there is no chimney) and fills socks, shoes, stockings or pillow cases with said presents. People fill children’s heads with deceptive rubbish, but they have a problem with the Truth: believing in God and doing what He says.
6.       It may come as a surprise to many to know that Christmas is also observed by Satanists who conduct human sacrifices at their Black Masses. Have you ever wondered why terrible things so often happen at this time? Families experience strife, violence and misery, people feel alone and abandoned. Drunkenness, licentiousness, gluttony and other demonic excesses are rife. People attempt to fill the emptiness in their lives with things which only make them feel worse afterwards. And what OF afterwards? There is an almost inevitable, colossal anti-climax on December 26th, or 27th at the latest and people wonder where all the ‘magic’ has vanished to. May I suggest that that’s all that the hype was; magic?
7.       Lastly, scripture makes it clear that observing special religious days is a practice which only the fearful and weak in faith follow. If you have faith, then you know that Jesus isn't interested in tradition and the warning notices of dead religion; HE IS YOUR LIFE EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY.

Christmas, Easter or any other religious practice is therefore irrelevant at best and evil at worst.  If a person is dead to the world, to self and the devil, he will have nothing to do with them, not because he isn’t allowed to, but because love for His Lord has put him into a different life; a different plane of reality altogether. These things are merely symptoms of a completely false way of thinking, an adherence to idolatry; an image of the god one has made of one’s Self.
Try leaving the tradition behind, however, and you will be chased by a hoard of well-meaning, offended, sentimental people, family members, religious or otherwise, attempting to drag you back into the zoo and the fold of the fearful, to go through the motions of staring at a caged lion.
To leave empty tradition behind is one of the hardest things a person can do. But if you do, there is freedom out there in the savannah.

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