I cocked my head to the side as stared down our tree. It’s limbs were bent from little hands which eagerly rearranged the haphazard ornaments on a daily basis. Glaring holes where ornaments used to be displayed were eyesores. Expensive snowman ornaments smiled at me, almost in a mocking way. I shook my head in disgust, wondering just what I thought I was doing.
A few years ago, my family decided to no longer celebrate Christmas for Christ. This decision wasn’t made lightly, and it originated from many years of changing our celebration to better focus on Jesus. You see, at first, we fully embraced all of the holiday traditions, including Santa Claus. After a few years of that, I felt convicted that we were lying to our children and I came clean about Santa, and we put our focus on Jesus. We did this for several years, until convicted yet again that while good intended, Christmas really wasn’t about Jesus.
Time for a Holy Spirit Led Change
I remember very clearly a discussion that I had with my agnostic brother during my “keep Christ in Christmas” phase. He told me that Christians had “borrowed” many traditions from pagan festivals, such as the date December 25th, tree decorating, stockings, gift giving, caroling, etc. I didn’t believe him at first, but then I did my research. He was right.
We didn’t do presents at Christmas at all the next year, we kept some decorations sans mention of Jesus’ birth. My heart is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) as closely as the New Testament church did. Worship of God doesn’t involve sights, sounds, and tastes that are pleasing to our flesh, and we are taught in Deuteronomy 12:4 that we must not worship the Lord in ways that the pagans worshipped their gods.
In steps Kirk Cameron. While I didn’t watch his movie, Saving Christmas, I participated in a few lively conversations on his Facebook page. He mentioned that we have the liberty to celebrate Christ in Christmas, and that those who didn’t were acting like the pagan gods were real. Whoa now. This made me stop and scratch my head. Of course the pagan gods weren’t real…what harm was it to participate in a few traditions?
I Still Decorated in Vain
I overlooked the passage in Jeremiah about the customs of people being futile and vain… “For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate in with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.” (Jeremiah, 10:3-4) Instead I focused on the passages in God’s Word that mentioned trees decorating His sanctuary. Decorating trees in my home surely wasn’t idolatry, was it?
The problem with this is, natural trees that the Lord created are beautiful and perfect. Just like so many other things in my life, I try to add my own touch to it, and the result is a sloppy mess. I had the best of intentions when I put up our tree. I decorated it with snow and snowmen, completely void of references to Christ. But doing so was futile…it was done in vain. I was decorating this tree while thinking about my liberty in Christ, instead of pondering the well-used phrase, “What Would Jesus Do?” Would Jesus decorate a tree in His home in any form or fashion?
Why did I continuously turn to pleasant sights, sounds, and tastes to be fulfilled, when true fulfillment only comes from the Lord?
Putting My Idol Back Where it Came From
While I balked at the idea that decorating a tree was idolatry, in a way, it was in my heart. I wanted to give my children a beautiful tree in our living room. I painstakingly purchased an abundance of decorations…that money would have been much better spent on other things. I thought of my children’s faces of delight when a new gift was discovered underneath the tree. While I could have decorated the tree with things of the Lord, I truly believe that God would be grieved if I did so, since He does not want to be worshipped in ways that false gods have been worshipped in the past.
And it had indeed become an idol.
Anything that takes our focus off of the Lord is an idol, and I need to remove these things from my life! I decided to remove the tree from our living room.
My husband arrived home, and didn’t notice anything at first. After about an hour, he whispered into my ear. “Where is our tree?”
I sheepishly smiled while I replied, “In the basement.”
He nodded his understanding.
Honestly, I probably need to throw the tree away, otherwise, I will be tempted to place it back into our living room next year. My flesh is so weak, ladies!
What I’ve Learned
As always, I’m always learning new ways to better serve our Lord. During this tree fiasco, the most important thing that I’ve been reminded of is to not let my mess interfere with God’s beautiful plan. I am always trying to add my own “special touch” to the plans the Lord has for me. When I do so, I mess things up! God’s way is perfect, all of the time. I must look to Him solely in all things!
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