Walking the tightrope, and on which side of it do we fall?

Christmas is a classic example of the tightrope we Christians have to walk in this world. And we can fall off on either side.

On one side of the tightrope is condemning Christmas for all its obvious faults and ironies, like making gift giving an obligation, or chopping down perfectly healthy trees, or going through the usual exhausting rituals for a few days pleasure, and, of course, its total disconnect in most people’s minds with Jesus’ birth. On the other side of the tightrope is condoning Christmas and everything to do with it, because it’s “all about the kids” and getting together as families, and for Christians it’s a way of introducing kids to Jesus using Christmas icons and rituals as illustrations.

Well, condemning doesn’t help, because it confirms people’s impression that Christians think everything in this world is wrong, and only what Christians believe is right. But condoning doesn’t help either, because it confirms the impression that Christians are scared they won’t be liked and accepted if they don’t run along with everyone else. So Christians are arrogant if they condemn, and cowards if they condone.

Halloween too is a tightrope Christians have to walk. Should Halloween be condemned for making light of evil, or should it be condoned as just another day of harmless fun for the kids, making it easy for Christian kids to join in too? And Remembrance Day as well: Should it be condemned for ignoring the propaganda that drove good men to kill good men and Christian to kill Christian, or should it be condoned and even celebrated for war’s selfless sacrifice of life?

On which side of the tightrope do we fall on these things? But if we do fall on one side it’s going to upset people on the other side, so is there a middle ground, a narrow tightrope between the two sides?

Yes, there is, according to Peter, who lived in a world similar to ours that wanted to blot Christianity out, which faced Christians back then with difficult choices too. Peter’s advice to Christians in such a world was simply to “have an explanation ready for the hope you’ve got” (1 Peter 3:15). That’s the tightrope we walk, that everything about us is driven by hope. Whether we do or don’t participate in Christmas, Halloween or Remembrance Day, therefore, our explanation for our actions remains the same, that we live in hope of a world that either expands on the good of these days, or remedies the bad in them. And the reason the expansion or remedies are possible is because Christ promised them, and he’s now in a position to make sure they happen.


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