I was driving home from work recently and listening to a popular local radio show. That day the hosts were up in arms about a story in the news. It was about a city (I missed which one) that had decided to change the name of this year’s annual Easter egg hunt.
Because it was a community event, sponsored by the local government, the city officials had decided they should call this year’s event the Spring egg hunt. This was someone’s idea of keeping church and state separate. I know, the founding fathers were rolling over in their graves. I get that.
As Christians, the radio hosts had climbed onto their soapbox and launched into a tirade over this latest development. They suggested that a private party pay for the event and then only let Christians participate. This was said a bit tongue in cheek, but still.
I remember when Christians bemoaned when Jesus was kicked out of the schools. I grew up with Bible readings and a prayer to start of each school day. Every morning, someone picked out a verse, and one of the students read it…. It was from the King James Version of the Bible, and since, at nine, I didn’t really speak the King’s English, it was mostly lost on me. I can’t recall a single prayer the teacher prayed either. So while the thought of starting each day that way is a nice one, I’m not sure what was really accomplished. I’m not much on standing on top of principle if the substance isn’t there. But no matter, really, because they ushered Jesus out the front door before I reached junior high. It was about that time that “Christmas” parties at school became “Winter” parties.
Not too many years ago, again Christians got all in a dither when, at Christmastime, Target stores stopped allowing their employees to wish customers a “Merry Christmas”. Instead, they were told to merely wish everyone “Happy Holidays”. Some really adamant folks would respond to this “hollow” wish with a frown and a resounding “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Sheesh.
Back to the radio show… As I listened to the dialog about the egg hunt something occurred to me. Somehow, I don’t really think Jesus will mind being taken out of the egg hunt. Really, I don’t. Egg hunts are not about Him anyway. In any regard. Not one. Now I am not anti-Easter egg hunts. I think they are great fun for kids and parents.
We once put on a community egg hunt to help get the word out about a new church in town. We made eight-foot egg-shaped signs with the details of the hunt painted on them, posted them around town, and were blown away when over two thousand kids showed up. Only we talked to each and every family about the new church, and while they waited for the event to start, they were able to watch a great video all about the person of Christ and His great sacrifice for them. It was the single best day in kid’s ministry for me.
And I’m going out on a limb here to say that I don’t even think He got all up in arms when Bible readings and daily prayer left the schools. Hang with me here. I am going somewhere with all of this.
And what about those Target employees with their hearty “Happy Holidays!” wishes? Have you seen how commercial the Christmas season has gotten? The only Jesus you see out there is usually the plastic ones they sell in the garden department.
No, I think Jesus probably breathed a sigh of relief when He was ushered out of these things. If we are not careful, these things become routine and empty. An Easter egg hunt does nothing to point to the cross of Christ. A “Merry Christmas” rarely evokes feelings of awe over the King coming to Earth as a baby to save us. And daily, empty rituals of Bible readings and prayer likely sadden Him whether they are in our homes, or in our schools.
No, I think Jesus would rather be in the hearts of those children, rather than in their egg hunt. I think he’d rather be in their hearts, than in their schools. And I think he’d rather be in people’s hearts than in their holiday greetings.
For you see, if He is in their hearts, then He will be in their events, schools, and holiday celebrations as well. Just try to keep Him out. As Christians, we tend to be really good at getting ourselves all worked up defending Jesus when we think He’s been offended.
Remember when Peter drew his sword in the Garden and lobbed off that soldier’s ear? Jesus didn’t get all gushy and appreciative. No, he repaired the damage His follower did, and told Peter in no uncertain terms that He could take care of Himself.
It’s not that I think He doesn’t appreciate the sentiment, but Jesus conquered death, He doesn’t need us to defend Him. He wants us to give Him away. To our neighbors and their kids, to our families, friends, co-workers and softball teammates. Let Him use you to share His love for them. Let’s not leave a trail of ears on the ground He has to repair.