1 Corinthians 10:6-7 ESV
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’.”
I found this definition of idolatry online:
“A definition of idolatry is ‘anything we serve, love, desire, trust, fear, and worship…apart from God to give us love, joy, peace, freedom, status, identity, control, happiness, security, fulfillment, health, pleasure, significance, acceptance, and respect’ (Gospel Transformation, pg. 59).
“Notice in this definition the ‘give’ and ‘get’ transactional nature of idolatry. In idolatry a person serves a god to gain what only the one true God can ultimately give. To say it another way, idols are functional saviors that people turn to for what only God can provide” (1).
Now, what my mind was being led to the past several days, really, is this whole subject of “Jesus is the reason for the season,” which I keep seeing promoted on social media. But then what I mainly see being posted by people are images of Jesus as a baby in a manger, sometimes in combination with Santa Claus, and pictures of things Christians are baking for the holidays and their Christmas trees, and their Christmas decorations, and events they are going to, etc., all related to the Christmas holiday.
And so many of you are saying that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But is he really? So, when some of you are running around “like a chicken with his head cut off” getting all excited about your celebrations of Christmas, and you are busy-busy buying each other presents and wrapping presents and baking cookies and putting up trees and decorating your homes, and going to parties, etc., is this really for Jesus you are doing all these things? Is he really who is uppermost on your minds? Is this what Jesus requires?
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts? Isaiah 1:11-12 ESV
For if Jesus truly is the reason for the season, then your celebrations should be modeled after the kinds of celebrations and remembrances that our Lord requires of us and that we saw modeled by the early church. And what are those? Well, they remembered the words of Jesus Christ, and they followed his teachings, and they did what he said to do, and they lived in the manner in which he taught them how to live, though not all did. And some had to be reminded frequently of what Jesus taught and of how they are to live.
And they were taught this with regard to what they are to remember:
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’.” Luke 22:19 ESV
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 ESV
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV
But this wasn’t just about going through a physical act of taking communion, but this was about what Jesus taught in John 6:25-58, where he told those who were following him that he was the bread of life and that if anyone eats of that bread, he will live forever. And he said, “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” And he said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
Now some people do take this literally but I believe it is to be taken more metaphorically. For Jesus Christ gave of his flesh and his blood on that cross in order that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and in order that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he died to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our lives, and in order to free us from our addiction to sin so we’d be slaves of his righteousness.
So, if Jesus Christ is truly “the reason for the season” then it should all be about him and what he requires of us in the way of remembering and celebrating him. And we must remember that Jesus was born as a baby to be our Savior and to die for us on that cross. And he died, again, to deliver us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin and so that we will walk in obedience to him in walks of righteousness and holiness. So we celebrate Jesus by obeying him and walking in holiness and in righteousness.
This is what Jesus Christ wants of us. He is not interested in our parties and our decorations and all the activities that go along with the celebration of Christmas. And he is not interested in the gifts we give each other, unless we are truly giving to one another as others have need, and we do this as a regular practice as needs arise. What he wants in the way of celebration of him is our all on the altar of sacrifice laid, our hearts under the Spirit’s control, and our bodies and souls yielded to him as our only Lord/Master.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Is Your All on the Altar?
By Elisha A. Hoffman
You have longed for sweet peace,
and for faith to increase,
and have earnestly, fervently prayed;
but you cannot have rest,
or be perfectly blest,
until all on the altar is laid.
Would you walk with the Lord,
in the light of His Word,
and have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
to be free from all ill,
on the altar your all you must lay.
O we never can know
what the Lord will bestow,
of the blessings for which we have prayed,
’till our body and soul,
He doth fully control,
and our all on the altar is laid.
Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
and how happy our hearts will be made,
of the fellowship sweet
we shall share at His feet,
when our all on the altar is laid.
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
and have peace and sweet rest,
as you yield Him your body and soul.
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(1) https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/idolatry.html (not an endorsement of this site)