Musings 61

Compared with our actually thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God (A.W. Tozer).

This wonderful and painful quote by Tozer is remarkable with its insight into the human soul. There are many applications of this great statement, but today is December 25 of 2014. It is a day and a time (around Dec 25) where many deluded souls do many things that they think honors Christ but in fact is quite against Him. It is the conventional religious notion that this is a great day and it is done to honor Christ, but the reality is quite different. In much the same way we can easily see how people from the New Testament times until the present thought that by singing, praying, and attending church or doing some form of externally good works that they were honoring God and doing something for God that would please Him. But underneath the rubbish of our conventional religious notions about those religious actions and things is a horrible theology. It is a theology that is driven to think that man can please God apart from grace and apart from the Gospel, though not many would admit that.

If it is possible for so many to be deceived about the Gospel and about what it takes to please God throughout history, is it such a hard thing to think that at least as many are deceived by the activities of December 25 year after year? Why is it that the world which hates Christ is so willing to join together and give presents and set up trees and sing songs this time of year? Why is it that so many liberal organizations that claim to be churches are so willing to join in all the festivities this time of year? I would argue that something that is so popular with the world and so popular with liberal professing churches cannot be something that has a lot of good in it.

In the third commandment, which flows from the first (have no other gods before me) and the second (don’t worship idols), we are commanded not to use His name in vain or in a light and meaningless way. I would argue that the word “Christ” when joined with “Mass) and used so lightly all the time is one way to violate the third commandment. We are to use His name with reverence and awe and we are to speak it with a theology that is true of Him. Even if we think that all the things that go on around this day of the year, surely it should make our hearts ache to hear the name of Christ spoken of with such lightness and vanity.

On the other hand, the word we use to refer to December 25th is made up of two words. One is “Christ” and the other is “mass.” The word comes from joining the name of Christ with the Roman Catholic practice of the mass. In other words, it was to be a special mass in the celebration of the birth of Christ. In my view the mass is a blasphemous activity and there is no way to join the name of Christ to such an activity and still use it in a way that is reverent and in accordance with the truth of Christ. The mass as Rome uses it is an activity where they believe that in some way Christ is crucified again and in some way the people of the congregation actually eat the physical body of Christ. This is to say that saying the word that many/most use for this time of year is a violation of the third commandment. When we use the word, it appears impossible to say that word and use the name of Christ in a reverent way in truth.

It is true that people laugh at this type of thinking and just think that those who believe like this are nuts. But remember, if people would take the time to look deeply in their hearts and examine their hearts as to why they do what they do and say what they do, they might get a bit uncomfortable. Scripture tells us that whether we eat, drink, or whatever we do we are to do it to the glory of God (I Cor 10:31). Scripture also tells us that even every careless word we speak will be brought into judgment (Mat 12:36). Will that involve the name of Christ that carelessly slips out of our mouths this time of year with “mass” attached to it? Well, people will say, that is not what people mean today. Perhaps not, but what do they mean? If we are commanded to have His name set apart to use in a reverent, honoring, God-glorifying way in love, are we really doing that this time of year? Is that the main purpose of what we do this time of year?

The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) is for His name to be hallowed. How can we pray for His name to be treated with reverence and awe while we use it so carelessly? How can we claim to love Christ and all He is when we use His name with such irreverence and so casually and even carelessly? I would argue that we need to read the quote by Tozer and try to cut underneath and dig deeply into what we really believe during this time of year. Yes, it may seem so silly to most, but how can it be silly to search our own hearts to be sure we love the true Christ this time of year? How can it be silly to look behind and underneath all of the religious conventions to see what is really going on? How can it be silly to make sure we are using His name with reverence? Just to be clear, we can also read Scripture and sing songs mindlessly which is also violating the third commandment when we use His name in them in a mindless way. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is absolute Lord of all and we are to love Him with all of our beings, even when it may run counter to religious convention. We are to revere His name and refuse to use it in an irreverent and mindless way even if our families get upset. He is Lord of all and Lord of the heart and we owe supreme allegiance to Him and no one else.

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