I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a joyous Christmas day with family and friends. As I’ve mentioned before (see here and here), a long time ago we didn’t celebrate Christmas for a couple of years because we had learned a lot about it’s pagan roots, but we now believe it’s better (for us) to use the day to spread the Gospel.
Our oldest son came over for Christmas dinner with his family. He doesn’t know the Lord. We also invited one of my sisters for dinner and to spend the night. Her husband died a couple of years ago and she had no place to go for the evening. She isn’t a believer either and we’ve had several “discussions” with her about the Bible and Christianity in the past.
Well, before dinner I led a prayer thanking the Lord for the food, that we could be together as a family, and that we could celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Who came into this world to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.
In conversation after dinner, our son tried pulling my leg by saying “Merry Christ-MASS” to me and stating that most people viewed the day as a secular holiday with no connection to Jesus. I answered that, despite the views of others, I connected the day to Jesus (as he already knew) and that we hoped he would someday have a relationship with Jesus as well. My wife and I take every good opportunity we can to tell our two sons about Jesus, even if it’s only a short couple of words.
After our son and his modern family left, we sat on the couch and talked with my sister. The conversation quickly turned to spiritual matters. My sister was raised Catholic as I was but doesn’t normally attend church. I thought all of my five sisters were agnostics/atheists from the conversations I’ve had with them but this one now admits to desiring a connection to God at this point in her life. Well, that’s a start! The last couple of years she paid the Catholic church down the road from her to have some masses “said” for our deceased parents to shorten their stay in purgatory. She attended mass on Christmas morning but she definitely doesn’t like certain aspects of the the contemporary ritual including the changing of some of the familiar wording of the prayers we were taught as children, that some people lift their hands up while singing and praying (she blamed that on the influence of “Southern Baptists,” no fooling!), and that everyone now has to hold hands while saying the “Our Father” together. She thinks it’s absolutely detestable that she’s required to physically touch anyone during mass. We had a long talk about Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity. She is very much against the Bible, especially after seeing a “documentary” on the History Channel about the alleged “spurious” origins of the Bible. Although she doesn’t trust the Bible, she believes in God but isn’t altogether sure about Jesus (this coming from someone who attended Catholic schools for 12 years – no Bible knowledge, zilch, zero, nada). We talked and argued, argued and talked. At the end of the conversation she agreed to visit our church this coming Sunday just to see what it’s like. We’re hoping she has a sincere desire for the truth but it seems tradition is the most important thing to her and she definitely won’t find that at our church. Would you please say a prayer for my sister? I finally hit the sack at 1 AM, which is a CRAZY hour for an old fuddy-duddy like me to stay up.
After my sister left yesterday morning, my wife and I just bummed around all day, we were so tired. I picked up Christmas day’s newspaper and right in the A-section was a full-page ad from the Hobby Lobby folks exhorting people to accept Jesus Christ as Savior (see photo). Love it! Praise Jesus! But in the very same section of the paper was an article from local columnist David Andreatta (see below) in which he describes his experiences as a “Chreaster,” a hands-off, nominal Catholic who attends church only on the big holidays; Christmas and Easter. Andreatta speaks for the vast majority of Catholics. The Gospel of salvation by Gods’ grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is not preached at Catholic mass. Instead, Catholics are taught salvation comes through receiving the Catholic sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules. But most members just don’t buy it anymore. Why should Catholics have to sit through the boring ritual week after week when their pope says even atheists will merit Heaven if they’re “good”? Andreatta writes, “Chreasters like us take the Golden Rule seriously, we just don’t see a link between “walking in love” and sitting in a pew every Sunday.” Andreatta speaks for most Catholics. For both nominal and practicing Catholics, the bottom line is attempting to live the “Golden Rule.” But God’s Word states none of us live the Golden Rule, which is why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to die on the cross to pay for our sins, and offers the free gift of eternal life to all those who accept Him as their Savior by faith. There they were; the two very different gospels in the same newspaper on Christmas day; the Light and the darkness.
Christmas with the Chreasters
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Sunday, December 25, 2016
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah 55:6-7