W.I.S.H. Post – December 19, 2018

Read: John 1:1-18, Jeremiah 10:1-5, 10

Are you enjoying a beautiful Christmas tree? Do you really think that’s appropriate?  You have read Jeremiah 10, right?  Here it is again:

“1 Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the LORD: Do not learn the way of the nations, or be dismayed at the signs of the heavens; for the nations are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the peoples are false: a tree from the forest is cut down, and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan; 4 people deck it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. 5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor is it in them to do good.

 … 10 But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

Okay, so you’re not worshipping a decorated tree as an idol as did the local pagans of the Old Testament 3000 years ago. The warning from the Prophet Jeremiah above, and the second of the Ten Commandments that forbids idols, both pertain to idolatry, not Christmas trees.  However, you should know that some Christian sects reject Christmas trees because it sounds too much like the ancient pagan practice.  There is spiritual endangerment here, but it’s not from the tree.

It’s not my intent to play “The Grinch”, so don’t take down your tree. I do want to highlight an important hazard that can cause some Christians to stumble.  It’s legalism.  For those prone to judge others, and who don’t understand how truly amazing God’s grace truly is, there is a tendency to try to live (and judge others) by the law of Moses.  The focus becomes appeasing God to avoid provoking wrath, not an unconditionally loving God willing to go to the cross to prove God’s love. We don’t live under the burden and inevitable condemnation of the law anymore; we live in the covenant of grace – there is a BIG difference. Legalism tries to minimize, even negates the difference between life under the law, and life under grace.

The Apostle John points to that difference in the opening chapter of his gospel:

                        “The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  – John 1:17

Shalom, Pastor Rob Nystrom