Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Christianize your pagan lifestyle

 

May 1, 2019



May Day, usually falling on May 1 (for obvious reasons) but not everywhere, is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival celebrated with dances, singing and cake. Being of pagan origin, as with many such celebrations, attempts were made to "Christianize" the holiday. Early European settlers brought May Day to North America, where, if celebrated at all, festivities vary greatly from region to region in the USA, with some having a political agenda. Most commonly, small baskets filled with flowers or treats are left at someone's doorstep, and the giver rings the bell and runs away.

Upon becoming Christians, we take on the responsibility of replacing our pagan lifestyle with the Christian lifestyle (Colossians 3:1-17; see also Romans 6:1-11 and Colossians 2:9-23) (Ephesians 4:29-5:20). "Pagan" activity is usually well-spelled out in some situations in the Bible, but other cases aren't as clear.

For example, we know idolatry is outright sinful, and most anything, even parts of our own body, can become an idol to any person and Christians aren't to associate with other Christians who practice idolatry (Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 3:18-19; 1 Corinthians 5:11).

That being said, the idols themselves, are really nothing, and it's OK to use things for their appropriate use even if they'd been used in idolatry.

The early church was divided over whether it was OK to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols with the concern any meat sold in the markets might have been part of a sacrifice (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 6:12-13). As you read in those passages, Paul, by inspiration from God, said this shouldn't be made a problem. He also said, though, while we're to avoid even the appearance of evil, God doesn't judge by external appearances because he knows the heart (1 Thessalonians 5:22; Romans 14:13-18; Galatians 2:6).

A contemporary example might be Christian farmers growing industrial hemp, the same plant species as marijuana but with minimal hallucinogenic properties and now legal to grow in New Mexico and federally supported because it has many good medicinal compounds (1 Timothy 4:1-5; Genesis 1:29-31). Able Christians are expected to earn a living, and some things aren't sinful in and of themselves and can only be connected to sin if they lead to idolatry or some other sin (Ephesians 4:28).

Back to the pagan origin and contemporary celebrations of May Day of dropping a gift at the door, ringing the doorbell and running away: I'm familiar with youth group activities in the autumn of raking leaves for the elderly, then ringing their doorbell before high-tailing it. Was that sinful because it also is done in a pagan festival? God is the original giver of good and perfect gifts, and he expects us to give good gifts to others [James 1:16-18; John 3:16-17; Ephesians 1:3-10; Matthew 25:31-46; Galatians 6:7-10 (pleasing the sinful nature is idolatry of self)]. While good ends never justify evil means, let's also not avoid some good end just because others might be making an evil use of it (Romans 3:8).

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan who writes about faith for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at [email protected]

 
 

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