Inspirational Thought of the Day:
This Easter, may we reflect on the empty tomb instead of the empty traditions of man.
Scripture of the Day:
1 Samuel 12:21
“You should not turn aside after empty things that can’t profit and can’t deliver since they are empty.”
I must admit that I have not historically made much of Holy Week. Sure, I would reflect on the incomparable sacrifice of our Savior on Easter, and once I celebrated a Seder meal. I even have tried to guilt myself into being more convicted around other holidays in which I felt I needed more zeal as I reflected on what God had done for us. But the end of the matter was that these holidays had become religious celebrations to me.
Growing up, I thought of the week prior to Easter as being a high church, orthodox celebration void of relationship. Wow, reading that last sentence sure makes me sound negative toward the greatest event of all time – God with us – choosing to lay down His life for His people, then rising from the dead. How did it become a religious celebration void of relationship?
I could try to blame the surrounding culture – it distracts us with false icons to celebrate what were once deeply spiritual celebrations. The Easter bunny, for example. What in the world do jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and boiled eggs have to do with Easter? Sure, I can stretch and make an application that will connect both worlds together. An egg symbolizes life and . . . and . . . never mind. I think you get the point.
These Christian holidays are a part of our culture. I grew up as a non-Christian and celebrated the same holidays that Christians celebrate. It might have felt meaningful, but it still missed the point.
The question is, why have Christian observances been hijacked by our culture by empty, religious and sometimes meaningless substitutes? Or better yet, who began the tradition of celebrating some of the Christian holidays in the first place?
In the Old Testament, there were seven Jewish feasts that God’s people celebrated which were instituted by God, not man. God had these events as moments for His people to remember and reflect on their relationship with God. But man tends to embellish and make these holidays the focus instead of the One Who the holiday is ultimately celebrating in the first place. So, too, our modern day religious celebrations over time can become holidays empty of the original intent.
What a clever distraction for the enemy to utilize on God’s people – focused on empty rituals instead of on knowing their great God. The natural tendency of man is to grow lukewarm. The original zeal one has when he or she becomes a Christian is hard to contain, but when this love for God is passed down through the ages as a ritual or a rehearsed tradition, the celebration of the once zealous relationship with God can become duty and holidays empty of a genuine relationship.
When I became a Christian, I was led to stop celebrating Halloween and chose not to celebrate the pagan aspects of central Christian holidays. I know there are differing convictions on this and it really does not matter. I don’t judge anyone who enjoys all of the cultural aspects of holidays. In fact, one of my dear friends stopped celebrating Halloween because of other people’s convictions and I told her she should still celebrate it if she does not have a personal conviction about it.
It’s just for me, cultural traditions hid my God from me.
They obscured His beauty with things of lesser value.
The point was, I wanted what I did as a Christian to be true. I wanted to be thoughtful about what I celebrated and to intimately know my God, not just celebrate the same holidays I did when I did not know my God.
How sad to think that people would go through all the preparation of celebrating their Savior to miss the point of the celebration: relationship. Some might try to validate the celebration of some holidays as being divine. It is not clear where the term Easter came from. Some myths point to a pagan goddess, some point to the Jewish Passover. Once again, it really does not matter. What matters is celebrating our God every day in our lives and if we choose to set aside a day to remember what our great God has done, don’t miss the point. Otherwise, it is empty.
I don’t want to celebrate one more holiday in which I do not do so without strong conviction. The Christian holidays we celebrate today were instituted by man. Whether or not we celebrate them is not a mandate by God. The warm fuzzy feeling that comes from celebrating a holiday is meaningless if we do not connect with the One Whom the Holiday is about.
However we celebrate the Holy Week, may we do so authentically. Individual traditions make the celebration more meaningful. May we enjoy the festivities but delight in our Saviour alone.
This Easter, may we reflect on the empty tomb instead of the empty traditions of man. He is Risen!
Oh LORD, please help us to live our lives differently because of Your amazing forgiveness. I want to cherish and remember deeply what You did for me. May I never grow tired of proclaiming Your mighty deeds or become lukewarm in professing Your greatness!