For today’s lesson in religion, I offer exhibit A—a chocolate Easter bunny—and exhibit B—a piece of unleavened bread. We are now in the season when the vast majority of Christian religions will be worshipping on Easter, which is full of many more symbols and ideas than just this rabbit. But if we were living in the time of Jesus Christ and the Christian Church you read about in the New Testament, this holy day season would look nothing like it does today.
Several centuries after Christ, certain people managed to bring into the church various practices of surrounding pagan religions. It’ll make it easier to convert people, they said. Today we would call it “marketing”—here’s the new and improved Christianity!
Others influenced the Church to reject practices they labeled as “Jewish.” Unleavened bread, Passover, Sabbath worship—too “Jewish”! Those holy times Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament Church observed—among them something called “the Days of Unleavened Bread”—gone! Out with the old, in with the new!
So, a lot of new ideas, totally foreign to anything in the Bible, found their way into worship; and these two exhibits are pretty good symbols of how many people see things today religiously:
- The old way versus the new.
- Dull and bland versus exciting and fun.
- Old Testament versus New.
- Jewish versus Christian.
So how can this matzo compete with this bunny?
How does this bunny look? Aww—it’s cute, isn’t it? Unleavened bread? Uh, not so cute.
And taste? Ummmm. Chocolate! Unleavened bread? Um. Dough and water.
And what do we tell the kids about these? Well, fantasy stories about rabbits laying colorful boiled eggs and hiding treats for good boys and girls. With unleavened bread, you get a real story about plagues, firstborn children dying, some strange people in a strange place coming out of slavery, then some modern parallel that we, too, need to change our lives and come out of the spiritual slavery of sin.
And which would the kids rather do—hunt for Easter eggs and candy, or work to clean the leavening out of the house (as the Bible says to do), all the while pondering the lesson of cleaning sin out of our lives?
Would you rather wash eggs and get them ready to decorate, or wash feet as a reminder to serve others?
No wonder people said we have to come up with better ways to do things! This might have been okay back at the Exodus, or in Jesus’ time, but folks today just don’t relate! How can we win people to Christ with those old ideas? We need pizzazz, appeal, fun! And that’s what makes it okay to tell our kids lies while we’re supposedly honoring the One who said don’t lie. Modern religion sure has improved the old ways, hasn't it!
You can read on this website about how, when and why everything changed in modern Christianity. The Church Jesus built is not the same today. In the process of changing the practices, something was lost. Maybe that’s part of the reason why modern Christianity is losing its influence today—people are looking for meaning in life, and substitutes for the real thing don’t give it.
There’s nothing “Old Testament” or “Jewish” or “irrelevant” about making a commitment to put sin out of our lives, or picturing Christ living in us, or commemorating the death of Christ covering our sins. And that’s exactly what those discarded, “old-fashioned” practices are intended to teach—true values!
Substitute the things of God, and your religion becomes about as meaningful as this rabbit. It’s time to recapture true values, to get the real meaning of religion back into life! Don’t be gullible and blindly follow what you’ve always been taught! Search out the truth. When religion abandoned the truth, they also abandoned the God who revealed it. But the truth didn’t go away. You can find it. And when you do, you’ll also find the God who gave it.
For Life, Hope &Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough.