We should learn from our mistakes. We can make a big deal about something today that absolutely doesn’t rate a little blimp on the issue scale later. In fact, many Christians have done this very thing.
Take, for example, Christmas. There was once a time some years ago that several felt that celebrating Christmas was wrong. There were sermons and writings that preached against Christ-mass. It was labeled a Catholic perversion and claimed to be satanic. It was widespread enough that Dr. John R. Rice, prominent Independent Baptist and prolific writer (I use an Independent Baptist example because of my background, but many parts of Christianity have had such episodes), felt compelled to write a book entitled I Love Christmas where he argued that Christmas was acceptable for Christians and that Christmas was wonderful on many levels. I imagine that 98% or better of current Independent Baptists would agree with every word he said. It was not, however, the case then.
There was a higher and vocal percentage the other way in that day. Some didn’t go all the way. Some said that Christmas was acceptable, but Christmas trees were heathen idols. They cited a verse in Jeremiah that they felt corresponded to a Christmas tree. It was about bowing before idol trees in that day. How they got a Christmas tree from the context or even the words of the verse is beyond me! But they did.
Fast forward to today. In the last 10 years I have only met three people personally that felt Christmas was totally wrong. I met two or three more that personally felt only the tree was wrong. There are more that think even the slightest mention of Santa is an attack of Christ. In my travels or on my Facebook newsfeed where I have friends all over the country and world I see Christmas everywhere, even among groups where it was once not acceptable. You would have never guessed that anyone ever really wrestled with that issue. It still exists (I had a dear lady write in conjunction with another of these posts that her family ostracized her over her celebrating Christmas), but it is as rare as a tax-cutting liberal.
Doesn’t it seem silly? I mean no disrespect to anyone who held or holds that position. It is your right and I support your right to hold it. Still, it seems odd to me. Just a guess, but I imagine a great majority of those reading this blogpost agree with me. Do you suppose that some who held it years ago, or were forced to hold it, feel silly about it now? Again, no disrespect, but anytime you have to back away from what you now find an unsupportable position, it makes you feel a little awkward. Take it from this Smoky Mountain guy whose grandmother talked him into sitting on a chicken roost when he had chickenpox as a boy!
I imagine there have been more than a few pamphlets and sermon notes trashed from those days on the subject of Christmas. Good riddance, but do you see the point? It doesn’t pay to get on a hobbyhorse not clearly mentioned in Scripture and ride it into the ground. Words pushed that hard taste bitter later.
Christmas is far from the only such hobbyhorse. In the 1970s there was a major push to not own a TV. Many smashed them in the yard or burned them. I know of many, and I mean many, who once held a position of no TV and have one today. They probably have watched a Hallmark Christmas movie in the last two weeks! They have guidelines for what they watch and rightly so, but the fact remains that a TV graces their living room where once it did not. Once it was preached against, but now it is not.
There is still a small group that still refuses to own a TV, but their numbers are too small to even be heard anymore. I respect them taking that position if they feel they should, but most of us simply don’t feel the Lord asks that of us.
The point is neither Christmas nor TVs. It is jumping on a hot button opinion where no Scripture in context can be cited. Make it a focus of your ministry today and you may look a little foolish tomorrow. It will be like some of those high school yearbook pictures you hope never see the light of day!
Do you think maybe we have a few candidates today to be the Christmas or TV of tomorrow? Will not having a projection screen later seem as silly as preaching against a microphone today? Will some other modern technology criticized today seem as odd in 15 years as preaching against central heat and air today? Some preferences today will be as off the radar in 20 years as Christmas and TVs are today. Some sermons preached now will be embarrassing then.
So we might ought to shore up the list of items we make a really big deal of. We should ask: does the Bible actually say this or am I in a fad that won’t stand the test of time? It’s a worthy question, wouldn’t you say?
So as you enjoy this Christmas–and I sincerely pray you have most blessed Christmas– you might want to ponder Christmas as a case study to decide where you really want to be.
May God bless you one and all as we stand victorious in the Christ of Christmas!
This was originally part of IBTR series–you can find all articles in the series here.