Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: The Intervention
By Diane L. Harris
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I’ve endured some difficult winters, seven years in a home heated by kerosene while frost crept in through cracks in the walls. I blocked bitter drafts with billowing sheets of heavy plastic stapled and duct taped over every window. But at least I had plastic and kerosene – and windowpanes. Imagine the fear gripping humans who had nothing but wood, thatch, and mud to stand between their physical and mental health and the icy grip of a season they never were quite sure would end. Which of their children, spouses, or neighbors would succumb to an unconquerable chill and have to lie on ice until the ground thawed enough for graves to be dug?
Who wouldn’t grab at any spark of hope for relief from the threat of death of self and earth? So from earliest times, our ancestors frantically worshipped the sun itself, and other false gods. In Germany, Oden supposedly traversed the winter sky, deciding the fate of everyone he caught outdoors. The Romans worshipped Saturn. Even earlier, the Mesopotamians celebrated twelve days each winter in honor of the god Marduk.
Burning Yule logs, candlelit fir trees, decorative garland, neighborhood parties, and the exchange of presents were all part of European attempts to prevent the end of the world. The fires and merrymaking probably did help them make it through winter; unfortunately, practicing those things to please false gods made our relatives idolaters. They expected their various gods to intervene in nature and bring back the life-giving sun – to save them.
It turns out that the intervention mankind needs is not against the weather but against the fear that leads us to eternal death. Fear is the weapon we use against ourselves, providing Satan the opening he needs to take over our lives and cheat us of the eternal life promised us by Christ. In much of the world, the development of God’s gifts of medical knowledge and technology have downgraded the levels of discomfort and danger our ancestors once suffered. But fear is still the greatest tool of Satan, greater than temptation. It is fear that drives people to give in to temptation.
Fear also causes us to condemn ourselves for no good reason. Recently I read an article comparing our present-day celebrations of Easter and Christmas to the ancient Israelis’ creation and worship of a golden calf. “I should do better,” I told my sister-in-law Vanessa, “ because I know about the pagan origins of so many of our so-called Christian celebrations, and even though I’m not a big celebrator myself, I really should tell what I know to keep others from sinning.” I was afraid I’d committed a sin by simply sending Christmas cards because the celebration of Christmas is not Biblical.
But, in reference to early Christians’ worry about which foods were “unclean” (previously sacrificed to idols), 1 Corinthians 10:25 says, “Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience' sake.” In other words, I’m a Christian, so I have the Holy Spirit living in me. He will let me know whether anything I eat or do is sin or not. If I don’t think my meat has anything to do with idols, then I can eat it. Christ has blessed all foods for the nourishment of my body. But I should never pressure someone else to eat the same meat if they do feel it’s a sin.
Similarly, if I believe my Christmas tree helps to ward off evil, then I would be wrong to have one. But if I think it’s just a pretty and aromatic decoration and I enjoy it as part of a celebration of Christ and Christianity, then it is not wrong. But I should not needle anyone else because they are either for or against Christmas trees. It’s not important.
When a Christmas tree, a burning log, or a greeting card becomes important to me, there is the problem. Winter is not my enemy and the sun is not my friend. Fear is a sin, Satan is my only enemy, and Jesus is my best friend. Only Jesus can intervene for me against my enemy, and save me.
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