Are Christmas Trees Forbidden in the Bible?

I remember growing up with the expectations of Christmas. Well, I remember knowing that we “had” to go to the Christmas eve candlelight service. And then I remember knowing that we could not open any presents on Christmas eve. I also remember that I was supposed to stay in my room so Santa would bring presents and put them under the tree.

Are Christmas Trees Forbidden

In reality, I never cared if Christmas or the trees were legitimately Christian. I understood about the birth of Christ, but that wasn’t what all this Christmas stuff was about – it was about the presents!

Don’t judge me – if I were a betting man I would bet money that you thought this way when you were a kid as well. Maybe that’s why Paul makes the following statement: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11). Well, his point was a little bit larger than realizing there is more to Christmas than gifts and believing in Santa Claus, but hey, let’s go with the concept.

You grew up. You realized there is no Santa Claus. You realized that it was not all about the gifts.

Then, maybe you started to question things. Is this whole Christmas gig something I should do as a Christian? Santa is not real, and the presents seem to have nothing to do with Jesus. And what about the tree? So you go back to the Bible, as you should to start to find answers, and you ask: “Are Christmas trees forbidden in the Bible?”

Here’s what you might find…

Learn not the way of the nations,
    nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
    because the nations are dismayed at them,
for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
A tree from the forest is cut down
    and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so that it cannot move.

- Jer. 10:2-4 ESV

And instantly you think, “Aha! I knew it! Christmas is a hoax. It’s a pagan holiday, and we shouldn’t have anything like it. We cut down trees and bring them inside. We decorate Christmas trees with silver and gold tinsel. We put it on the base and secure it so that it won’t come crashing down in the living room on top of the flat screen TV.”

While your efforts are grand, your understanding is all wrong. You are commended to looking into God’s Word for guidance on this subject. But the truth is this: the Bible does not forbid Christmas trees. Here’s what was being communicated in this passage from the book of Jeremiah, we have to read on to adequately understand what God was saying to these people:

Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
    and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
    for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
    for they cannot do evil,
    neither is it in them to do good.”

- Jer. 10:5 ESV

Putting everything together, this is what God was communicating to the people:

You have a problem. You’ve cut the foreskin of the genitals of all males to keep the covenant. However, your hearts are still untrimmed. You haven’t cleaned your heart of the unrighteous things as you’ve cleaned and marked the outside of your penis. (God explained this in Jer 9:25-26.) Therefore, clean up your hearts.

Therefore, clean up your hearts. Stop fearing what the other nations say is going to happen. I am all powerful; I am the King of the Universe, not their puny little fake god. Their ideas are empty, useless, stupid. Here’s why…

The chop down a tree. They trim the branches off. They make a wooden statue. They dress up and honor this piece of wood, and make sure their fake god won’t fall over (because that would be embarrassing). Open your eyes and see the truth!

The wooden statue never walks anywhere itself. It never opens its mouth and speaks. It’s because the statues are pieces of wood. They can’t do anything, much less bring evil or good. These people are stupid, dumb, ding dongs.

People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
    The things they worship are made of wood!

- Jer 10:8 NLT

So, all being said, no – Christmas trees are not forbidden in the Bible. But here’s the kicker – our God is the God who speaks. And He may be speaking to your heart, saying you have a problem. Maybe, Christmas has become an idol in your life. Maybe,  you need to circumcise your heart as the nation of Israel needed to cleanse their hearts.

Therefore, you’ve felt the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit and are searching to clarify His voice. Maybe, God is speaking to you to skip Christmas this year. And seriously, maybe, He wants you to get back to the origins of Christmas – the birth of Christ. We celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. Not because it was the exact day Christ was born (you don’t always celebrate your birthday on the exact day you were born). But because it is a day set apart to celebrate the arrival of the King of the Universe.

I’m not telling you to break your conscience with the living God. What I am saying is that Christmas trees are not forbidden in the Bible, because they simply aren’t. However, again, if God is speaking to you about doing something radical: like calling off all the trees, the presents, the stuff, and asking you to get back to the origins of the celebration, then do it! Just don’t use the explanation that the Bible says so, because it doesn’t. Mature in your faith and explain that God is speaking specifically to you about avoiding the culturalized Christmas this year.

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The world waited for God to come and set things right. Jesus came and gave Himself to restore the relationship between God and humankind.

Now, the world waits for Jesus to come back and finish His work of salvation. He brought salvation and promised perfect peace in the world to come.

Currently, we are waiting for Jesus to return. This “waiting” is not passive, but active. While we are waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, we are to be zealous for good works.

Helping others, doing good deeds, is the essence of these good works. In essence, we should get excited about helping others because Jesus helped us more than we could ever repay.

So God, help me. I sometimes don’t feel like helping others. There are occasions where I know my heart is hardened, and I do not want to help people.

Infuse me with your life. Let me not be able to contain myself. Let your grace and my gratitude spill over into tangible acts of love towards others. 

Teach me to wait actively; to be doing good works while I look forward to your return. 

May I wait for you with good works.

Amen.

Why The Holy Spirit Is Not Enough

This morning at 6:30 AM, I’m sitting in McDonalds working on some writing, and I cannot help but become over-taken with the love and presence of God. There is nothing like His love. So, I stopped working, and enjoyed spending time in the presence of my Savior.

Why The Holy Spirit Isn't Enough

There is a verse in this song, actually a plea for help, which exclaims:

Holy Spirit, gift of God

Teach my soul to soar

Train me in your holy ways, oh Lord.

I don’t know what to expect. Actually, I do.

Christians will probably get mad because this doesn’t as accurately portray the Bible as we believe it should.

Most of America will watch this movie because it’s from the director of Gladiator, it looks awesome, and well yea… It’s probably gonna be a blockbuster.

I’m not sure how much research went into the movie for the historical accuracy as portrayed in the Bible. I hope there was careful attention to the person of Moses, and the story of the Exodus as told in the Bible.

Will there be added details not found in the Bible? Of course!

Anytime we read the Bible and actually take effort to imagine what is happening (see The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto), then we are adding details which we didn’t read in the Bible. However, we need to do this, to place ourselves into the grand overall story. It gets the ideas of God further into our hearts.

So, here’s my prayer:

God, let this movie, Exodus: God’s and Kings, lead people into an experience with you. May people place their trust in you. May people who have never given you a thought, begin to look to you. May they begin to question you. And as these questions and ponderings arise, let your Spirit move, let your Words take root in their hearts, and let them grow into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I hope your story is spread God. And I hope it moves on people’s hearts to bring them into relationship with you.

P.S. And here’s the kicker for all the grouchy Christians, if it happens for just one person, then the millions of dollars spent to make the movie was worth it, right?

How Thanksgiving Can Bring You Peace

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. I enjoy all of the great food and time with family and friends. At its core, this celebratory time with people was originally intended to give thanks to God for blessing with a great harvest of food.

How Thanksgiving Can Bring You Peace

But, only giving thanks to God once a year isn’t exactly what we should be doing if we have committed to following Christ. What’s more, is that during this holiday time, people seem to get more stressed out and on-edge than throughout the rest of the year. It’s strange, because giving thanks to God is supposed to result in peace.

It’s why Christmas follows thanksgiving: As the timeless Christmas song declares, “Peace on Earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.” (Actually, I’m making that up – the bit about Christmas following Thanksgiving – But it sounds good doesn’t it?)

Well, giving thanks to God does result in knowing peace. So, let’s re-focus on this idea of peace:

Are you searching for peace? What is peace? Is peace simply a tranquillity? Or is peace an absence of war, disagreement, and violence between people or nations? Dictonary.com defines peace in one way as “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity.” Generally, when we use the word peace, the idea of serenity is the most common use of the word.

In its essence, true peace is a harmony between mankind, the created order of nature, and God Himself. Peace is not an absence of action or interaction between people, but more like a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders. Peace is when everything is working together properly as it was intended, or created, to do so.