I had a phone call today from a man asking about our church, The Fountain. He saw an ad we have out in a local paper (yep, a church plant that advertises). We had a pretty nice conversation, but he asked me something that kind of caught me off guard. He asked me “what are your views on that holiday crap?”
Holiday crap? Like a creepy old guy that sneaks into peoples houses and leaves things instead of taking them? Or a genetic oddity of a bunny that lays eggs with caramel filling? “Which holiday crap are you referring too?” I asked.
“You know, Christmas and Easter…those aren’t in the Bible!” he explained.
This really got me thinking, where do you draw the line between being in the culture and being of the culture? Jesus prayed in John 17 and openly admitted that we were still going to be in the world, but that God (the Father) would keep us in Him. This is where many get the “in the world, not of the world” concept. So when is it too much?
I know at my house we celebrate Christmas and Easter. My wife, Shannon, and I also take care to explain to our children what these holidays/celebrations represent. But if we are just doing them to color eggs and get presents, then what’s the point? I think this guy would be right, that is “holiday crap.” How many things are there that we do daily that is cultural but not even close to scriptural? Keep in mind, culture counts. Jesus himself said “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:19b
Binding and loosing was common verbiage back then, pretty well any Jew would have known exactly what He meant. To bind was to restrict or make more restrictive and to loose was to make more lenient. The Law had certain areas that weren’t completely black and white, so depending on what Rabbi you followed you might have slightly different laws. A common place difference would be how far one could travel on the Sabbath.
The point here is that God doesn’t want us to lose our culture. How can we effectively reach or even communicate with people who don’t know Christ if we loose our culture completely? You can be in your culture without being of your culture. You know what’s expected, it just doesn’t mean that you expect the same thing. Shine your light, just don’t point it in everyone’s eyes.