There's been a lot of talk and anguish recently about the fact that a pagan business is not showing CHRISTmas images on its coffee cups.
Really. I'm not making this up.
I just wanted to stop the madness for a minute and ask - Why?
As in... Why is anyone surprised at this? Isn't it a good thing that pagans do not disguise themselves as Christians? I mean, how would we find them otherwise?
If you have spent any time walking through this world - and, at this point, I've spent a LOT - you'll begin to notice a couple things. One is that some people, as they get older, seem to get more loving, more kind, more joyful and more peaceful. They don't seem to be bothered by all the 'stuff' that gets you going more times than not. They seem unconcerned that life has not been 'all they've ever wanted'. This life is not the one they have banked on. Although they've received power for living, and joy throughout - this life is not the 'main deal' for them. They've got an even better one elsewhere.
Slowly you begin to realize that they 'have something'. And you want it.
Because the vast majority of people are nothing like this. Most people tend to get more fearful as they age. They spend more and more time trying to deny the reality of that fact. 'Anti-aging' is the catch word and the byword for those in this group. As the years tick away, fear comes alongside regret, then bitterness, disappointment and often anger. They feel that 'life' has let them down somehow. Regardless of who they were, how important they were, what they had and what they controlled - at some point, what's left? Nothing, but getting older and grayer; less needed and less considered. And then... extinction. Not a very uplifting tale is it?
These two very disparate groups are the way they are because they are residents (or rather children) of two different 'Kingdoms'. There's a kingdom of the children of God - those who don't need to worry about before, now, later or forever. They know where they came from, and where they're going. Most importantly, they have an intimate relationship with their Father - the Creator who assumed human flesh to pay a price they couldn't, and after ransoming them from horror and death - went back home to fluff up the pillows in their rooms at the mansion. They know that their Father has their back. Always has, always will. And since He's kind of a big deal - being the Creator of the universe and all - well, that tends to leave one with a whole lot of peace, and a lot less worry.
And then there's the other Kingdom. This is the pagan kingdom, which is made up of pagans. The definition of a pagan is "an irreligious or hedonistic person". Irreligious means "not religious; not practicing a religion and feeling no religious impulses or emotions", and a hedonist is "a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification". Kind of sounds like the definition of an average American these days, eh? Or at least everyone within the pages of 'People' magazine, and all those who desperately try to emulate them.
Pagans often start out looking good, but as time goes on they begin to get this nagging feeling that something is just not right. That's because they have a different Father than Christians. Their father is known as 'The Father of Lies'. That's probably because, well, he lies.
This Father is the Enemy of the Christian Father, the Creator God. In fact, this is the enemy that has been lying to humans since he first tricked Adam and Eve, the first children of the Creator. Having lured them to his side; he's been at it ever since. His biggest lie is that no such 'Kingdoms' exist. There's just this life - and it's here for the taking!
And since the Enemy is so good at lying, his Kingdom always looks wonderful from the outside. There are no restraints, and that is a good thing right? We can say what we want, do what we want, dress like we want, copulate whenever we want (like the animals), and basically put ourselves first in everything we do.
Sounds great, doesn't it?!!!
But the downside occurs once you get into that Kingdom. For if everyone is loving themselves - then who is there to love you? If it is 'every man for himself' - then doesn't that kind of make every man ... your enemy? And when we hand over our bodies to sin, then sin begins to reign in them. And sin, by the way, never leaves goodness in its wake. We have disease, we have broken hearts, we have broken children, we have broken homes, we have ... broken everything ... but all dressed up with a lot of tinsel trying to look good.
Yep, that Pagan Kingdom sure looks fun and exciting from the outside - but inside it pretty much resembles, oh say, Hell?
And that's why I can't understand anyone wanting Pagans to go around acting like they are Christians. I mean, it's important for people to understand what side they are on. Only then can they examine the Father they are following, and decide whether to stick around - or make a run for it.
And that's when real Christians do what they do best - they help escaping pagans reach safety. In fact, they share a lot of similarities with the WW2 French Resistance, who also had to watch their countrymen slowly fall victim to lies - in their case, the lies of Hitler, who, by the way, was a very close disciple of the original Father of Lies. Same playbook. Ask the Germans who enthusiastically ELECTED Hitler to office based on his wonderful promises! His Nazi government also looked great from the outside. It was just the inside part that came back to bite ya.
Since real Christians usually know and care about people living in the Pagan kingdom; they see the destruction and pain awaiting pagans along their path - and the horrifying moment at the end when the Father they chose comes to claim them - and pagans realize who they have actually been serving all those years.
And so real Christians tend to continually launch quiet rescue attempts. But like the French people in WW2 - some pagans want to be rescued, while others don't. Being rescued is hard work. It takes accepting the fact that you are living in slavery. But many people have grown accustomed to their slavery; and fighting for freedom means telling yourself the Truth. And like Pilate before them - most people find the Truth a hard thing to swallow. It tends to lead to giving up all this 'me' focus; since, if we want to enter the Christian Kingdom, we need to acknowledge the TRUTH that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is God; and we ... are not. And the even tougher TRUTH that God makes the rules; and we... do not. Not even when we, with our incredibly enormous and powerful human pea brain - disagree with the wisdom of the Creator of the planets, stars, galaxies and universe.
Hard to swallow; I know.
And because acknowledging the truth is so difficult when you have momentum in a lie, most people seem to avoid having to make that move from the pagan kingdom to Christ's kingdom until they are face down in the dirt: having lost everything, and given up all hope. Which is kind of where their father, the Pagan king, likes to see them.
Usually when pagans find themselves like this, they get pretty desperate and often try to escape. They seek out one of those people they met before - the ones who seemed so confident and joyful regardless of circumstances - the ones who talk about 'walking with Christ' and 'sharing his power'. But how can escaping pagans find a real Christian, when other pagans are disguising themselves as CHRISTians?
For when Pagans celebrate our Holy (hol-i-day) Days, speak our language, and mimic our lives - then we get what we have in America today - a nation that no longer knows the difference. An escaping pagan sees someone with a CHRISTmas tree set up in their living room or Easter baskets strewn about their home and simply assumes that person is a Christian. Yet that person doesn't seem to reflect the values or laws of Christ; and in fact, they look and act an awful lot like the enemy of the Christian Father - they resemble the lying Pagan Father. And if that pagan seeking escape runs to a 'Pagan disguised as Christian', then they will be told to go home and continue to celebrate all the 'freedoms' they have. They may even been forced to comply, since their desire to know the Truth can make pagans seeking the comfort of Lies - very uncomfortable.
And so instead of complaining about Pagans acting like pagans, I suggest that real Christians begin encouraging them to do just that. Encourage Pagans to STOP claiming to be a Christian when they neither act like Christ, nor follow His Laws. For after all, hanging out with, sharing the beliefs of, and copying Democrats will NOT make you a Republican. Eating donuts, sitting on your butt 24/7 and never moving will NOT make you an olympic athlete. And living in Spain, speaking Spanish and cheering the Spanish President will NOT make you a British citizen. So why is it so hard for us to understand that when you intentionally, deliberately and defiantly sin; when you deny Christ is God; when your actions loudly proclaim that you matter more than anything else - then you identify yourself as a child of that other god, the Pagan one who says such things are just fine - and definitely preferable to the views of that Kingdom he hates - the Christian one.
So let's begin to insist that our identities be true. Stop deceiving those who are seeking real Christian Resistance fighters to come and save them; and stop deceiving yourself. For after all, Pagan is - as Pagan does. And this is a good thing. Now we Christians know which ones need help.
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.