This is a subject that has been on my mind for some time. I decided to use this forum to vet my thoughts. Frankly I am conflicted, occasionally I wonder how far to take this and I am hoping to get your opinions on the subject. Symbols play an important role in our lives. A symbol can be anything from McDonalds golden arches to the American flag. Symbols are an important part of God’s communication to us. The meaning of many of Jesus’ parables are hidden in symbols. God choose to mask his messages from the prophets in Symbols. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that God wants servants that are conscientious of symbols and their meaning. If you combine that with Titus 2:14 and 1Peter 2:9 both which state that Christians are to be separate from the world, I think we have a directive to avoid worldly symbols.
If we are to be separate from the world, should we associate with symbols that are synonymous with the world?
My aim is not to offend anyone but rather to try and get us all to consider the symbols that we put in our home. I think we need to at least be conscientious, and thoughtful. If, after you have considered the true meaning of a symbol, and others perceptions of that symbol and you still feel that it is benign I do not think you err. Truly this is a matter of personal judgment.
Common symbols to take stock of…
The “Jesus” Fish: Although the fish symbol does have pagan origin as symbols for: Aphrodite, Atargatis, Dagon, Ephesus, Isis, Delphine, and Pelagia. They are not as strongly connected as some other symbols. I still wonder, what profit is it to make a profusion of useless symbols that are not found in the bible. Titus 1:16 indicates that we are known by our works, not by the fish sticker on our bumper. With so many stickers on so many bumpers, does this “Christian” symbol really mean anything?
“The Cross”: While I don’t have a strong objection to this one I just wonder, why the cross? I heard a really good sermon this weekend that pointed out the questionable iconography of the cross. Christ was raised and perfected on the third day. It is the third day, the resurrection that marks the pinnacle of his earthly service not the crucifixion. (Luke 13:32) The other question is, with so many people wearing paraphernalia of the crucifixion does it really mark you as a Christian? Do you want people to think of you as a Christian because of what you wear or by what you do?
The Easter Bunny: Some symbols are not so blatant, but take stock of this one. Like the origin of Easter, the origin of the Easter Bunny has roots that go back to pre-Christian, Anglo-Saxon history. The holiday was originally a pagan celebration that worshiped the goddess Eastre. She was the goddess of fertility and springtime and her earthly symbol was the rabbit. Thus the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons worshiped the rabbit believing it to be Eastre’s earthly incarnation.
The Christmas Tree: Research into customs of various cultures shows that greenery was often brought into homes at the time of the winter solstice. It symbolized life in the midst of death in many cultures. The Romans were known to deck their homes with evergreens during the Kalends of January 15. Living trees were also brought into homes during the old Germany feast of Yule, which originally was a two month feast beginning in November. The Yule tree was planted in a tub and brought into the home.
Mistletoe: From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore. It was considered to bestow life and fertility; a protection against poison; and an aphrodisiac. The mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. On the sixth night of the moon white-robed Druid priests would cut the oak mistletoe with a golden sickle. Two white bulls would be sacrificed amid prayers that the recipients of the mistletoe would prosper. Later, the ritual of cutting the mistletoe from the oak came to symbolize the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Mistletoe was long regarded as both a sexual symbol and the “soul” of the oak. It was gathered at both mid-summer and winter solstices, and the custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other pre-Christian traditions.
I could keep going but I will refrain. I think, as contentious servants we need to be careful of the symbols that we place on ourselves, and in our homes. What do you think?