A festival, a new moon, a Sabbath day – these things are a mere shadow of what is to come. But the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17).
Holidays are reflections of what we hold most dear; they are shadows of past, or future, realities. Christmas is still the favorite holiday for most people, but for some, Halloween is catching up in popularity. We could grieve at this development when we realize the vast difference between these two holidays in what they represent: The word Christmas means “celebration of Christ.” The etymology of Halloween implies that people may just prefer worldly heroes to heavenly ones – and maybe also a lifestyle free of the standards of holiness. But to look at how the world celebrates Christmas, we should not be either surprised or dismayed that Halloween is rivaling Christmas in some quarters. Neither of these, for such people, have much to do with God, with His care and love for His creatures, or with His ultimate plan of the ages. We may try to make a distinction between sacred and secular holidays, but any holiday that directs our attention upon the temporal things of earth, and draws our eyes and hearts away from heaven, as both our present citizenship and future destination, is secular. And by “secular” I don’t mean neutral: not evil, not good, but just in some innocent middle ground. Guess what: there IS no middle ground! “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” wrote Paul (Romans 14:23). “He who is not against us is for us,” said Jesus (Luke 9:50). And you can’t have it both ways, either. All holidays, by their very nature, involve worship: lavishing high praise upon, and attributing ultimate worth to an individual, event, or idea. A holiday will find you focusing either on God, or something or someone less than God. But in the first of the Ten Commandments God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus put it this way: “You cannot serve God and Mammon” (Luke 6:13). And so, if either Halloween or Christmas finds you buying and decorating and cooking and partying and “candying” (Trick-or-Treat in October, Sugarplums in December!), and spreading good will to all, the real distinction between these two rivals is lost, so who really cares which one wins! By the way, the same could be asked about any holiday you may be inclined to keep: Is it all about God, or man? Does it feed the spirit, or the flesh? Does it draw us to heaven, or tie us to earth (or – shudder! – drag us below). Let these be the questions we ask ourselves next time we carve a Jack-o-lantern or turkey, trim a Christmas tree, send a Valentine, dye an Easter Egg, light a firecracker, or sing Happy Birthday. Any of these can be done to the glory of God, or man. Don’t worry about which holiday is the best. Worry, rather, about what or whom you are worshiping while you are reveling!
Bits & Pieces from Japan
8 years ago