Dear Prayer Warriors, Easter is upon us and parents everywhere have to decide what to do with the Easter Bunny. The response of the church ranges from Easter Egg Hunts on the church lawn to sermons preached that the Easter Bunny is actually a demon-god and that to participate in the tradition of Easter Egg Hunts is of satan. As a family and as a minister who teaches extensively on marriage and family, we had to decide what to do with the Easter Bunny. Our decision was threefold:
1. We taught our children the clear and true meaning of Resurrection Sunday, not only during the Easter Season but throughout the year;
2. We allowed our children to participate in the secular customs of the season, always making it clear that the so-called Easter Bunny was in the same category as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, dolls, toys and other make-believe aspects of childhood;
3. We developed evangelistic traditions, so that we might not just be against the secularization of our culture but also for the Christianization of our culture. In this blog, I thought I would share briefly on each of these, in the hope that it will aid you in your celebrations on Resurrection Sunday.
First: We taught our children the clear and true meaning of Resurrection Sunday, not only during the Easter Season but throughout the year. God the Holy Spirit makes it clear that it is the father‚Äôs responsibility to teach and train children in the Biblical truths of Christianity. Ephesians 6:4 ‚ÄúFathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.‚ÄĚ And again Deuteronomy 6:6-7 " These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.‚ÄĚ It is not, and I repeat, it is not the responsibility of secular society, merchants or government to preserve and present the true message of Easter to your children. It is the father, with the support of the mother and the church, who is responsible to bring the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Instruction in church is essential but it will no more do the work of bringing children up in the Lord than would attending school for a few hours one day a week prepare them for their university studies. Children need daily instruction in the Lord and it is the parent‚Äôs responsibility to see that this takes place. The daily family altar at the breakfast table or the dinner table, where the Bible is both studied and discussed, is essential. For families with the ages of children close together this can be done as a group. For families with children at a broad range of ages then this must be done in separate age- appropriate sessions. There are two holidays which are excellent opportunities to begin a daily family time of Bible study and discussion, which can be continued throughout the year. The first is Christmas and the second is Easter. The GCI website offers several holiday studies to get you started. Just cut and paste the link below to your browser and when the website appears scroll down to Easter. http://gciweb.org/2011/07/holidays-resources/ Once you have finished these you can go to the Daily Devotional Materials and choose appropriate titles for your family to use. (Simply follow the same steps tothis link, choose English Resources and then Meditate Now http://gciweb.org/2011/07/holidays-resources/ .) The important thing to remember is that it is your responsibility to ensure the spiritual development of your children. If you spend five days a week emphasizing secular training and only one day a week emphasizing spiritual training, then your children‚Äôs lives will reflect accurately the training you have given them.
Secondly: We allowed our children to participate in the secular customs of the season, always making it clear that the so-called Easter Bunny was in the same category as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, dolls, toys and other make-believe aspects of childhood. We never worried that our children‚Äôs knowledge of these fantasies would spoil Easter, Christmas or any other holiday for other children. We taught them the truth, that the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Superman, Barbie, Spiderman and the rest were all pretend. If other parents were foolish enough to teach their children they were real and then get caught in a lie, that was their problem but not mine--and certainly not my child‚Äôs. It never surprised me that the non-Christian world came up with alternatives to the Incarnation of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ. God the Holy Spirit makes the spiritual state of unbelievers clear. Ephesians 2:1-3 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. We cannot expect those in such a spiritual state to understand or comprehend the great doctrines of the Bible. Nor is it their responsibility to protect and promote them. This is the responsibility of the church and of individual Christians. Are you upset with merchants for emphasizing the Easter Bunny rather than Jesus‚Äôs Resurrection? Have you been witnessing to merchants, inviting them to church, sharing the gospel with them? The question is not, ‚ÄúWhat merchants have you forced to promote Christianity against their will?‚ÄĚ Instead, the true question should be, ‚ÄúWhen is the last time you said this phrase, ‚ÄėWould you like to pray now to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior‚Äô?‚ÄĚ The truth of the matter is that, in the book of the Bible entitled The Acts of the Apostles, Jesus‚Äô resurrection was not celebrated with pageantry but through the clear proclamation of the gospel in large group settings, in small group settings and on intimate one-on-one encounters. Acts 5:42 ‚ÄúAnd every day, in the temple and from house to house , they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.‚ÄĚ Acts 20:20-21 20 ‚Äúhow I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house , 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.‚ÄĚ Eliminating the Easter Bunny from our culture will neither redeem our culture nor result in one person spending eternity in Heaven rather than Hell. It is always easier to sit around in Sunday School and church and complain about the secularization of society than to share Christ and recruit and lead evangelistic Bible studies.
Third: We developed evangelistic traditions so that we might not just be against the secularization of our culture but also for the Christianization of our culture. We would invite internationals to our home for Easter Dinner and share Christ with them. We would use Easter pageants to invite non-Christian neighbors to church and then to dinner. There are many ways you can involve your family in evangelistic Easter activities.
This Monday we will assemble and begin delivering Easter evangelistic baskets to merchants and non-Christian friends. This will be a small basket with Easter candy, Easter eggs, a New Testament and an evangelistic book such as ‚ÄúMore Than A Carpenter‚ÄĚ by Josh McDowell or Lee Strobles ‚ÄúCase For Christ‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúCase For Easter.‚ÄĚ I will give them to the lawn men, the trash men, to the workers at Starbucks, to our accountant, the doctor‚Äôs and dentist‚Äôs offices, the constable who patrols our neighborhood, the cleaners we frequent, the pharmacist and other merchants. We will take them to the local military recruiting station.
Having done this, the time of soil preparation begins once again for, in the fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all present us with outreach activities.
The answer to the question, ‚ÄúIs the Easter Bunny A Demon?‚ÄĚ is the same to ‚ÄúIs my pumpkin demon possessed?‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúIs the Christmas Tree an idol?‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúIs Santa Claus a demon?‚ÄĚ-- the list goes on and on. God the Holy Spirit makes it clear when it comes to pagan customs. 1 Corinthians 8:4 ‚ÄúTherefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.‚ÄĚ So yes, you can eat an Easter Egg or chocolate bunny with a clear conscience this Easter.
These debates are similar to the current debates about which teams will draft which players in the American Football League. People debate at great length issues over which they have not influence at all. People debate these holidays at great length. They have no control whatsoever on the holidays their culture celebrates. What they do have great control over is using these holidays as an opportunity to ask as many people as possible, ‚ÄúWould you like to pray now to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?‚ÄĚ
Let me encourage you to celebrate Easter this season and throughout the year the Biblical way -‚Äďthrough a clear presentation of the gospel and a call for repentance and new birth through faith in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures , 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures , 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. By His mercy, II Corinthians 4:1 Rev. John S. Mahon Director ‚Äď Grace Community Int.
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