Blessed and happy greetings to you on this Holy Resurrection Day. I hope that you have had a glorious day in the Lord today!!! What an inexpressible privilege to celebrate the Risen Lord—Jesus!! Praise God we serve a LIVING Savior not a dead and powerless man or idol!!
We have been talking about holiness and confidence in our risen Lord and I would like to share more thoughts with you this week in this vein. I believe we are called to examine ourselves, our beliefs and our practices on a continuous basis. That is what I’d like us to do this week as we’ve been focused on the risen Lord and our celebration of His resurrection. Deuteronomy 8:2 “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Romans 12:2 reminds us of our call, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” and 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Galatians 6:4 “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” May we be reminded of our obligation to examine ourselves continually—God does!
What does all of this have to do with idolatry, you might ask? Well, let’s look and see. I’d like to start with several scriptures that show us God’s perspective toward idolatry, with the understanding that “idolatry” means “extreme admiration, love or reverence for something or someone…”. A good place to start is the Ten Commandments, the 1st is “Thou shalt have no other “gods” before me”; the 2nd “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image….”; and the 3rd “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them…”!!! The first three of the Ten Commandments call us to exclusive faithfulness to our God, and the rejection of anyone or anything that competes with Him and His place. Galatians 5:19-20 lists “idolatry” among the works of the flesh, in contrast to the works of the Spirit; “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, …..,”. God takes idolatry seriously, and I believe we should also.
With this said, let’s look at our celebration of “Easter” or Resurrection Sunday. The time when we, as Christians, celebrate the fact that our Lord was raised from the dead!!! As I have thought on this of late and been looking around us, I made some disturbing observations. In our desire to “reach others”, are we compromising our faithfulness and devotion to God and allowing hints of, and even blatant acts of idolatry entry into our worship? I would much rather spend this time sharing light and encouraging words for us but I feel compelled to call us to “holiness” and faithfulness before our “jealous” God. Exodus 34:14 “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:” What are we calling people to when we celebrate Christian Holidays? Are we more interested in an “Easter Bunny” with a basket in his hand, or a Savior with SCARS in His? Are we more defensive about a jolly “elf in a red suit”, or the Babe in the manger/our Emmanuel—God with us? Pretend or reality? What are we offering the world? Temporary myths or eternal HOPE in Jesus?
I was in a very prestigious church recently and the first thing I saw when we entered the door was two large bunnies and a basket with ‘Easter eggs’ in it. A little farther down the hall was a tree covered with ‘Easter eggs’ hung on it’s branches. Not a cross in sight! Not a representation of the empty tomb but lots of bunnies and eggs all around!! I was shocked and disappointed, to say the least! There was a time in our American culture when the church presented Christ and Him crucified and risen again, and the ‘Easter Bunny’ was a thing that relegated to each family’s discretion within their own homes. The ‘make believe’ balanced by parents who shared the ‘TRUTH” about Jesus with their own children. Those who weren’t Christians obviously weren’t concerned about Jesus and that is to be expected. But we are the ones with the “GOOD NEWS”—why not share the truth rather than fables?
As I looked in the papers, the mailers and other advertisements from many churches these last few weeks, I saw that many if not most had as much or more emphasis on the ‘Easter egg’ hunt, or the candy or other frivolous “bunny” activities. What price are we willing to pay to supposedly “reach” people? It grieves my heart to see that we have opened the door of the church to more and more of the world. Why is the gospel itself not sufficient for us today?
Paul reminds us, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”, 1 Corinthians 2:2, and in Acts 4:10 Peter proclaimed “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” Paul and Peter stood on the truth of the “Gospel” and Christ alone—Hope in the resurrected LORD. What about us?
Why do we find it so necessary to bring the “world” (idolatry) into our churches to attract the world? Jesus himself told us in Matthew 6:24 (& Luke 16:13) “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. “ Which master are we serving? Where do we draw the line? I’m not talking about “make believe” and children’s “fairy tales” and ‘nursery rhymes’ in general—but I am talking about the church trying to reach the world with the “world’s tools” rather than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If ours is the “good news” why do we keep reaching back into the world for something to “appeal” to lost people? They need Jesus not more of the world!! I pray that we will search our hearts and that we will determine to keep ourselves holy. 1 John 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” and Jude 1:21 & 24-25 “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life….24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen..” I simply add my AMEN.