Overcoming the ‘spirit of christmas’ with the Spirit of Christ: Part 1 in a Series: Roots
This series (I’m assuming it’s going to be a series because I really expect this to blow up into something interesting) did not come out of one moment of frustration, or a single event, but instead it has been developing inside of me for many years. It also is not just about Christmas but this journey pertains to any other ‘holiday’ or celebration that is rooted in something – perhaps something you don’t even understand.
In fact, the content of this series, and exploring the path travelled to get here, should be of benefit to anyone who truly wants to question every little part of their life and why they are doing it. I suspect it will be advantageous even as far as asking questions like ‘why am I using this pacemaker?” to “why am I paying taxes for this?” The true purpose of this is not to ‘kill Christmas’ like some Scrooge character, but to merely question why I’m doing something and whether I should be doing it this way or not. And, perhaps, to answer this question: ‘Does it matter or not?”
It’s also worthy of noting that I have been trying for years to pull this topic together in some kind of tangible way to which the average disciple of Christ can relate. Here is one such article I wrote as I made my first few attempts. As you will sense throughout, one of the underpinning challenges with taking action is that it results in pressure (and sometimes severe) from the people closest to you.
On that note, we’ve all got busy schedules so thanks for joining and hope you enjoy joining the journey because I also suspect it’s going to be difficult to wrap this up.
The word ‘holiday’ can be read as ‘holy-day’. Before I was a disciple of Jesus, it was no big deal. Just a word. Didn’t think about it. Then, one day I was reading my KJV Bible (I like my KJV so don’t mess) and I came across this scripture:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days. (Colossians 2:16)
Being a man of the fine English language, one of my favourite websites is www.etymonline.com. A quick search of the word ‘holiday’ reveals this:
- holiday (n.)
- 1500s, earlier haliday (c.1200), from Old English haligdæg “holy day; Sabbath,” from halig “holy” (see holy) + dæg “day” (see day); in 14c. meaning both “religious festival” and “day of recreation,” but pronunciation and sense diverged 16c. As a verb meaning “to pass the holidays” by 1869. Happy holidays is from mid-19c., in British English, with reference to summer vacation from school. As a Christmastime greeting, by 1937, American English, in Camel cigarette ads.
And so the word ‘holiday’ is definitely rooted in ‘religious festival’ whether or not we know what the roots it are, or think about it, or care about it. A tradition of any kind at all started somewhere but most people don’t really think about its roots. As soon as you start to investigate the roots you will hear something along the lines of this:
“I don’t believe or practice the roots of that. It’s not about the roots but whatever power you give to it.”
I have heard this argument given by supposed Christians who think it’s OK to do yoga. After I explained that it’s deeply rooted in Hinduism (no one denies that) they brush it off as ‘well I’m just stretching or exercising’.
So do roots matter?
God thinks they do.
Isaiah 11:1 describes Jesus as follows:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots
The entire start of the very first book of the new testament in Matthew 1:1-17 shows that God is very much concerned about from which lineage the Messiah Jesus would emerge. There are books of the old testament where huge chunks are dedicated to genealogies, or, if you will, the roots of those families.
But let’s bring it back to the earth for the heathen who may be reading this.
If roots didn’t matter then why do people make family trees? Why is there a certain strange feeling of connection when you see a photo of a great grandparent in a photo in the trenches of a war? Why do people take trips to Jerusalem to see where Jesus walked or go to obscure cafes where Elvis sat (did he sit in a cafe?)? Why do we feel a sense of unity when we sing our old national anthems? We sense these things because there are roots that exist and there is power in those roots. Grand pappy Harold sang that national anthem at his school, too when he was a boy just after walking ten kilometers uphill to school in the ice and snow!
Roots are also very important in every area of our earthly lives. The first thing that comes to mind is a discussion I had with my friend who is, in my opinion, a great example of someone who understands business and money. He explained to me how a process called ‘root cause analysis’ saved a large corporation he was working for in Asia countless amounts of money. In medicine, the entire goal is to find out the *root* of a problem and find the cure. In counselling, the entire goal is to find the root of the thing that’s causing the couple to want to rip each others’ eyeballs out.
And that’s why God was very harsh in the old testament about digging those roots out at any cost such as when Joshua took and killed Achan, his entire family, stoned them, and then burned them and everything they owned and capping it off with a giant mound of stones.
Why had God instructed this? Because Achan had, in his disobedience, taken an accursed item from the enemy and hidden it after God had clearly said ‘don’t touch the enemies stuff!”.
The root had to be cut out completely.
A root is the organic equivalent of the foundation for a building. I learned a lot about this this year while I was weeding my garden. Some weeds looked easy to get rid of but when you grab them, they rip off at the soil level only to reappear a few days later in the same spot. Other weeds you could just rake out and the never come back. The difference? Depth of roots and strength. I was deeply impressed with this one toxic product I bought. I sprayed it on this cute little weed and came back the a few days later to see that Mr. Weed had taken his last drink – he was brown, withered and dead. His roots couldn’t resist and he was slumped over in his green grassy bed.
All throughout the Bible we read about roots and foundations. Jesus said somewhere in the Bible: “If you build your house on sand, it’s going to wash away in a storm but if you build it on a rock you’ll be good to go. (King Wayne Version).” Preach it, Jesus!
Is it OK for a disciple of Jesus to have a statue of Buddha on their coffee table?
Most believers would say immediately ‘no’ because they know that the statue of Buddha represents another god – another spirit. The Buddha statue represents an ‘accursed thing’ – and item destined for God’s ultimate destruction as well as anyone who would worship this other god or system. The statue of Buddha *represents* the spirit behind the statue.
“Oh, Wayne. You’re too serious. The Buddha statue only has the power you give it. If you were a strong Christian then it wouldn’t have power over you.”
It sounds very attractive. It sounds like it’s almost spiritually accurate. Until we think again about Achan. If it were ‘just what power we give it’ then Achan and his family didn’t need to get barbequed and buried and God is therefore a ruthless tyrant ready slit our throats for a home-staging error.
Sorry. That ain’t the God that I know and serve.
Roots are very important to the God of the Bible and the God whom Christians claim to serve.
God is very gracious. I’m sure that if Achan didn’t know full well that he should not have done what he did that none of that would have happened. Achan knew full well what he was doing and the lives that could be lost if the power of God were to abandon the Israelites in the heat of battle over this. And that’s exactly what happened. Many lives were lost because of his choice.
Good news. God is still gracious. He allows us years and years learn in our season but there does eventually come a time when He expects action. He does not tarry forever. There was an appointed time for God to send Jesus to the world to save sinners. There is also an appointed time for each of us to die, and that day may come before the scheduled time of the second coming of Jesus.
For me, I have reached the season where I have learned enough and I really, really want to start taking action steps towards purifying myself and my family from things that God might find to be offensive or downright sinful.
I want to axe out and radically amputate (term stolen from Setting Captives Free) any root in my life that could be hindering my spiritual walk in any way at all.
Now that it has been established that roots are important (at least to me) and carry meaning and power and influence, we can move on to dealing with ‘the christmas spirit’ (lowercase on purpose).
EDIT: 150106 – Found this amazing video on the topic.