I encourage you to guard against deceptive festive faith
Christmas is a wonderful time of celebration, thanksgiving and festive pleasure for Christians. Believers accept as the apostle John did, that “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:2). Peter realised that the Christian’s spiritual life, that is their faith life, is only “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).
However, there is questionable belief in Jesus which I call ‘festive faith’ which is when the spiritual party syndrome dominates. In other words, your loyalty only lasts as long as the good times last. It’s shallow and immature by nature, it’s where simplistic thoughts rule and fun ranks as the priority while maturity is shunned as irrelevant and legalistic.
Festive faith can only recognise its own kind; it repels absolutes while embracing vagueness. The middle ground is attractive, that spiritual space where neutrality exists, where nothing needs to be stood up for and decisions for Christ have no cost attached.
It’s festive by nature, pursuing popularity, drawn to that which it deems attractive and happening. It’s similar in essence to the heart attitude of the Pharisees Jesus spoke of; “you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). Festive faith promotes outward beauty and fun while convincing you that inner sin is of no consequence. We live in an age and culture which elevates festive faith for the Church while rejecting “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
By nature Festive faith compromises and is happy to give no consideration to the consequences of its actions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Kingdom of God doesn’t need more boys and girls for Jesus; rather, the Lord desires more men and woman of God. Men and woman of conviction; laying down their lives in surrendered faith, a faith which relentlessly pushes ahead in service for the Saviour. Jesus said it best; “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Spot the real faith
Faith must be more than mantel piece belief. Yes, faith empowers joyful celebration! And yes, faith gives meaning and understanding of life. Faith enriches God’s people with the assurance of security in Christ. Faith grows the certainty of hope in Heaven and eternal life. And yes, faith replaces fear with peace and certainty.
Faith agrees that; “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:15-20 NIV).
This Christmas, I encourage you to enjoy celebrating Jesus Christ heartedly while being on guard against deceptive festive faith. May the Lord be pleased and honoured as you “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
P.S. I’m taking a break over the Christmas holiday period and shall join you again in February 2018.
Together for Christ: Lincoln Forlong www.bbf.net.nz