Did you know some believe Christmas trees are sinful? This video gives an understanding of why some reject them and what the Bible says about them.
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On Sunday, I did a message about the three most important trees in the Bible. I also talked about the Christmas Tree… it’s history and it dominance in American Christmas celebrations.
A few times since Sunday I’ve been asked about Christians who are opposed to Christmas Trees. Let me tell you where this comes from and why I’m not concerned with Christmas trees. Listen to this verse and see if you can picture a Christmas tree…
It comes from Jeremiah 10:2-4 which says this: “Do not learn the ways of the nations… For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.”
That does kind of seem like a Christmas tree – right? Cut a tree out of the forest… adorned with trimmings of silver and gold… I had a professor in college who refused to have a Christmas tree because of this passage.
Let me tell you why this is NOT about a Christmas tree. On Sunday I mentioned that in some modern translations the word “cross” may literally be the word “tree.” In ancient times – the word “tree” was often used for something made out of wood – especially something that still maintained a vertical position… like a cross.
So this verse may initially seem like a Christmas tree but it CLEARLY is referring to an idol made FROM a tree. Instead of imagining a Christmas tree this time – listen to a wider context and think of an idol made of wood.
Jeremiah 10:2-5 – “Do not learn the ways of the nations… For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk .Do not fear then; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”
Notice that in verse 3 – it is called a tree, but in verse 5 – it is called an idol. This is NOT a Christmas tree Jeremiah is referring to. It is a idol made FROM a tree. An idol that is worshipped.
Do not fear… having a Christmas tree is NOT what Jeremiah is talking about. Now – there are some who say – not even considering Jeremiah 10 – that the Christmas tree has pagan origins. Well, I think that is highly questionable history – but even IF it is true… think of it this way. Even IF EVergreen Trees were used in the past by pagan religions – would that be a reason NOT to have a Christmas Tree in your home. Well – perhaps.
My thoughts go immediately to 1 Corinthians 8 and 10.. food that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul said – if it doesn’t violate YOUR conscience or cause someone else to stumble – who cares – eat that meat! With a Christmas tree – it is the same – if it doesn’t violate your conscience or cause your neighbor to worship a false god – enjoy the tree.
Even IF (and that is a big IF) Christmas trees came from a pagan worship tradition… There are three ways to handle issues that come from our culture. We can RECEIVE, REJECT, or REDEEM them.
Perhaps something can be RECEIVED from culture. That is common grace from God and can be used by followers of Jesus with no compromise. Whoever wrote “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” I don’t know if he was a Christian or not, but that “secular” song can be received by Christians and enjoyed.
Other things from culture should be REJECTED – like… thinking of another Christmas tradition – fruitcake. That should truly be rejected by anyone who loves Jesus. No, but seriously, there are evil things in our culture that we as Christians can’t receive and need to reject.
But there is one more option – and that is to REDEEM… We can take something from the world and REDEEM it. It could be a good thing gone in a bad direction. And we can reclaim it and utilize it. I think of Santa Claus… Of course we don’t believe in Santa Claus, but what a GREAT thing to REDEEM that story and share with your children the REAL story of St. Nicolas and let them learn where the fun myth of Santa Claus (St. Nick) came from.
So – all that to say – even if the Christmas Tree has pagan origins – It can be redeemed by Christians to set an atmosphere in our homes that says, “This time of year is DIFFERENT. This time of year is a reminder – that He has come to REDEEM! Emmanuel…God is with us.”
Merry Christmas… enjoy your tree, and don’t let a well-meaning Christian misuse Jeremiah 10 to try to make it say what it doesn’t say.
Oh – and if you have a fake tree… shame on you. That definitely CAN’T be justified or REDEEMED… Just kidding… kind of… Merry Christmas.