Friday, December 05, 2014

Christmas - III

PART I: Yes, Christmas is not in the Bible. Yes, a lot of its practices are derived from pagan practices. But this is true of a lot of “Christian” holidays. And this is true of a lot of church practices, that pretty much everyone who attends church accepts. If we are going to make changes in our practices based on this reasoning, then there is a whole lot of stuff we should stop practicing.

PART II: God created culture, so it is good. Moreover, there is no “Christian” culture. Sin taints all culture. More, God has planted seeds in every culture to reveal himself to people. The gospel has elements that are beyond cultural expression, but it can be put into the context of any culture. Each people group needs to implement Christian practice within the context of its culture.

PART III: There are a lot of things the Bible does not talk about. It does not say if someone should go to college. It does not say if someone is in college, that he should get a PhD in physics. It does not tell someone what job to take, let alone what job to apply for. It does not tell someone who to marry. (It does give guidance as to what type of person one should marry. But if Mary is that type of person, and Karen is that type of person …)

In many ways, God gives considerable freedom to us. Scripture is like a road. We can walk on the right side. We can walk on the left side. We can walk in the middle. We just need to make sure we stay on the road.

As a result of this space on the “road,” there are all sorts of beliefs, given various degrees of importance by those who hold them. And there are disagreements. And there is looking down, and condemnation, on ones holding different beliefs. And there is “shaking heads” because people don’t see things the way we do. (And we know whose way is right, of course.)

Does the Bible say anything about the “space,” the differences and the feelings of superiority that may result? Yes, it does. It says don’t argue about these differences. It says don’t feel superior about your views. It says we need to have three attitudes:

(1) We need to believe the best about those with different opinions than ours. We must accept them, believing they have good motives and good reasons for believing what they do. We need to assume, or at least, grant the possibility that whatever they are doing, they are doing it to honor God.

(2) We need to realize that we are not the boss. Whoever this person is, wherever he comes from, if he is one of God’s children, he is accepted by God, he is led by God, and he is loved by God. It is God, who is the master and the judge. It is God who approves/disapproves. It is God who enables. And it is neither wise nor right to usurp God’s place.

(3) We belong to God. He is our Creator and our Father. When we face an issue of what practice to follow, we need to be fully convinced, and be motivated to honor God by our decisions and practices. God’s kingdom is characterized by (and therefore, our lives should be characterized by) doing good, giving love, exercising faith and experiencing peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Our goals in the family of God are harmony and edification.

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