While I never took to Santa Claus bringing gifts each Christmas, since my cousin spoiled the illusion for me as a child, I used to think erecting and donning a tree for the Christmas holiday was just a fun tradition.
Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree
I didn’t particularly like all the tree ornaments, but I loved the strings of lights weaved in and out of the branches.
Sitting in a dark room at night with the tree all aglow was mesmerizing and soothing to me. I had no idea that what I was participating in was bad, because it made me feel so good.
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. (Jeremiah 10:2-4 KJV)
I recognize this passage in Jeremiah is specifically addressing the making of idols, and not necessarily a Christmas tree, but the elements mentioned in these verses and the idea of idolatry can all be found in the Christmas tree tradition.
When we used to celebrate Christmas, I knew in my heart that this tree had nothing to do with the birth story of the Jesus of the Bible, yet I persisted in putting it up year after year. That is, until the last year about 6 years ago…I couldn’t take it anymore. I was so sick of what the holiday had become even within Christian circles. All the bending over backwards to justify the tree in a Biblical setting was too disturbing for me. 🙁
Now, I don’t miss it for one second, because I had a change of heart.
The Bible is very clear about doing what is right in our own eyes vs. what is right in the Creator God’s eyes. There’s a difference, and the rationale of “that’s not what it means to me” just doesn’t cut it as demonstrated in the golden calf incident found in Exodus 32.
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:1-7 KJV)
I pray we all continue to take a serious look at these three of the Ten Commandments, and humbly ask our Maker to reveal any wicked way in us, and then remove them as we become aware of them.
This is where the rubber meets the road, I think. Do we really love Him? or Do we prefer to do what feels good to us?
I really do love Him, and pleasing Him makes me feel good. 😉