I wonder why our culture has made such a big deal over the beginning of a new year? We don’t celebrate the beginnings of each new month with any thought at all. What is so great about today?
Well curiosity got the best of me again so with the magic of the internet at my fingers, I binged it. And low and behold another pagan tradition slapped with the label of Christianity by none other than the great Roman emperor Constantine. One site I read stated that the Church initially forbade this custom but then made a compromise. Ok, it is a bit more complicated than that, but do a bit of research for yourself.
In America Christians tend to flow with our culture rather than question it. Most of us have no idea the history behind many of the cultural (even Christian cultural) traditions that we celebrate. In my quest for devotion this year I’ll be asking those questions of most everything that we do as a family.
Last night we spent the evening at the home of one of our church families with a few other families from our church. We talked, ate and played games until we were too tired! There was no huge celebration over a crystal ball falling down a pole (although I think some of the crew watched the east coast celebration on TV). We enjoyed each other’s company and had a lot of laughs. We asked God to bless our evening and the food. He was with us as wherever there are two or mover gathered in the name of Jesus, God is there.
So as Christians, must we legalistically eradicate all cultural traditions that have roots in paganism? Should we declare that we live under grace and not under the law so we are free to participate since we are not worshipping some other god? What does devotion to Jesus Christ look like in these situations?
Sadly I don’t have all the answers. I am still seeking God’s guidance and grace in these matters. My heart says that when we slap a Christian label on a pagan worship practice, God is not glorified. He shows us over and over in His Word that idol worship stirs up His wrath. He is a jealous God. I do believe that God wants us to be aware of what we are doing and why we are celebrating. I do believe that God wants to be the center of our celebrations. He alone is worthy of our praise.
Am I saying that those Christians who go out and party on New Year’s Eve or Easter or Christmas (seriously check the roots of these traditions) or who practice Yoga or martial arts will face the wrath of God? No, I’m not. However I would encourage them to educate themselves and to seek God’s face and will regarding those practices. Personally, I will not incorporate into my life (especially on a regular basis be that weekly, monthly, or yearly) traditions that I find in our culture and not in my Bible. But that requires that I know what is in the Bible. I can’t know it all perfectly, but God will hold me accountable for what I do know and understand of His word. If I read it, understand it, and then do as I please (in opposition to His Word) I am sinning.
All that being said, I do pray that each of you will seek God’s will each day of this year, not just today. I pray that you will search His Holy Word and see what a great God we serve. He will meet you there.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:4-10 ESV)
Stay humble. Seek God’s truth and His ways. Be encouraged. Be watchful and ready! Press on.