Wednesday, February 27, 2002

If It Were'nt for God, I'd be an Atheist

Christmas has come and gone. We had a good time, we put up a tree, bought presents, made sure we got cards to the right people, had friends over and had a time of it.
What was it all for?
Celebration of Christ's birth.
And why do we celebrate Christ's birth on December 25th every year?
Did Jesus ask us to?
That's one of the questions I stick in the same catagory as, why such a big hoopla on January 1st 2000? What's so significant about the anniversary of Jesus turning 3 years old (as the true historical date of His birth is around 4 BC)? And if it was important that we celebrate His birthday, why were we never given an exact date -- other than somebody's arbitrarily picking the date of Winter Solstice (a Roman pagan holiday) for the occasion, and then miss-guessing the year...?
Many believers in Messiah don't celebrate Christmas, and they give excellent reasons for their stand. A couple of them are linked to this web site.
So why, you ask, did we celebrate Christmas?
In my case, as I'm surrounded on every side by wonderful believers in Messiah of the more traditional sort, and as I haven't received a direct personal word from the Lord regarding Christmas, I think that the waves that would result from my refusal to celebrate would be more destructive than creative. Romans 14:5ff is applicable here.
So, we celebrated Christmas simply because everyone else was celebrating, and we didn't want to miss the fun.
Apart from that, it's hard for me to take Christmas very seriously, especially when we're not commanded in the Bible to celebrate it, nor even given enough information on how and when to celebrate it.
Especially when there are a number of feasts that are described in the Bible in great detail with instructions about how and when to celebrate them, that we totally ignore.
Why do we pay so much attention to so-called Christian holidays that the Bible doesn't even mention, and so little attention to the Jewish feasts that are mentioned?
Are we afraid of being 'under the law'?
Then why are we virtually under the law regarding Christmas, Easter and other holidays?
The answer to that is, because of a religious system which, it seems, could go on propagating itself whether God existed or not.
Whether God shows any signs of life or not, hymns are sung and sermons are preached every Sunday, Christmas happens at the end of the year, people get upset when you spell it 'Xmas' because you're 'taking Christ out of Christmas', and the coloured eggs and Easter bonnets come out around April or so.
More Christians are sure of the necessity of celebrating Easter, than are absolutely sure that Jesus did, in fact, die on the cross around 2000 years ago, and rise again three days later.
Is God pleased with a system that can go on without any action on His own part, run by people who aren't 100% sure of the resurrection, and even less sure of the Sinai experience?
Personally, I believe He's more pleased with a self proclaimed Atheist. That's what I understand from Revelation 3:15 anyway. If you can't be hot, it's better to be cold.
Why celebrate the resurrection if one doesn't believe in it? If anything is essential to the Christian message, it's the resurrection of Jesus.
I've told my friends, if you want to stop me being a Christian, all you have to do is prove conclusively that 2000 years ago, Jesus didn't actually and physically die, and then rise again from the dead three days later. In order for us to gain power over sin through the born again experience and be thus enabled to live the Christian life, it was necessary for the death and resurrection to actually happen physically to Messiah. An inspiring story of human goodness triumphing over evil just won't do.
Some of my friends have talked about discoveries that are supposedly suppressed by the Catholic church, such as the actual nature of 'the Holy Grail', or something about a grave somewhere in France closely guarded by the Knights Templar, containing the body of Jesus who actually grew to an old age, or something like that.
My answer is, why suppress it?
If there is proof to the effect that Jesus didn't actually die and rise again from the dead, I want to be the first to know. I could then stop wasting my time with this 'Christianity' thing.
If Jesus is still a corps, then so is all this stuff about 'church' and Christian religion. Moreover, it stinks to high heaven - literally. Religion without a living Lord being the central driving force is a stench in God's nostrils. The only thing that should keep the honest conscientious person around the church scene is the presence of Jesus.
So what would I do if they disproved the resurrection?
Probably convert to Judaism and study to become a rabbi. At least they have a living God. I'd probably go Lubbavitch Chavad. They seem to have the most personal experience of any non-Messianic Jewish group I know of (also linked on this site).
...Unless someone also proved that God didn't actually give the Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai 1500 years before that -- another vitally important event.
The reason why the death and resurrection of Jesus fits into the scheme of things, is the Exodus and the Sinai experience. That (and perhaps you could add, the call of Abraham) is what set the foundation for the other to happen. The two are what I would call the most important events in history.
What I find remarkable is how both events are recorded.
Even if Moses didn't write the whole Torah, as some claim, someone had the audacity to say, 'All of our forefathers witnessed the Exodus, and heard God's voice thunder from Mt. Sinai, and saw His glory in a cloud over the congregation' (I heard this reasoning from an Orthodox rabbi, by the way).
Why did that take such audacity?
Because anyone who heard or read such a statement could simply go to any corner of Palestine, and asked any elderly gentleman of the Hebrew race, 'Did this really happen to your forefathers?' The answers one would get from the various tribes and villages of Israel would say whether there was substance to what was said or if it was simply a made up story.
If it didn't really happen, it would certainly conflict with their oral tradition.
To try to fabricate a story like the Exodus would be like telling all non-native Americans that their forefathers really arrived in North America on alien spacecraft. Even without school textbooks, most families know how their grandparents or their great grandparents arrived in North America. Some date it all the way back to the Mayflower. Some to the slave ships. Most of them also know which country they originated from, so how could anyone put a story over like that and have it uniformly believed throughout the whole nation?
Apparently someone managed to pull it off in ancient Israel -- either that or God really did appear to them in Sinai.
Regarding the resurrection of Jesus, Paul had the same audacity. He stated in I Corinthians 15 that Jesus, after his resurrection, was seen by 300 people, most of them still alive. All the reader had to do was go and find several of them and ask. Some of the Corinthians, whom he was addressing were beginning to doubt the resurrection, and where there's doubt, someone's bound to check out the source.
So, Paul either knew something, or he was stupid.
So, back to the issue of Christmas, and the other so-called Christian holidays. At least, the Jewish holidays, largely ignored by the Christian community, celebrate the vital role of the Exodus and the Sinai experience, and the actual presence of God in the midst of the congregation of Israel.
What about Easter?
I think we were originally meant to be celebrating Passover, which is the Jewish feast during which Jesus was crucified and resurrected (actually He was resurrected on the feast of First Fruits, a few days after the Passover meal).
But isn't Easter the Christian version of Passover?
No. One of the popes decided that he didn't like the idea of Christians following the Jewish lunar calendar (it was too 'Jewish') and replaced it with that of an nearby date on the solar calendar of what used to be a Roman pagan holiday of - you guessed it - 'Easter'. The thing is, we Christians hated the Jews so much that we'd rather be pagan than Jewish, so that's why we, today, don't celebrate the Lord's resurrection on Passover, but on a pagan holiday, complete with rabbit eggs.
Maybe that's why we ended up with such an empty religion...?