Fireworks. In the tri-state area where my family and I call home, there are times it seems there is no reason needed for folks to shoot off fireworks. Tonight happens to be New Year’s Eve and the last day of 2017. Already around the world, scores of people are celebrating the beginning of a new year. Each nationality has a different way of celebrating the arrival of the new year. Within the United States, we gather with family and friends and share a meal. And during that meal, many will discuss their resolutions — the plans they have to live the new year differently than the last.
Fireworks? Are they necessary?
The short answer is no, they are not necessary. But just as with anything else, we can find a philosophical application that will explain them. Fireworks have, since the ancient days in China, been used in war and celebration. In war, the ancient Chinese would use them to scare their enemies. But in celebration they were used to mark a definitive moment in history. Tonight, around the world, as midnight ushers in 2018, the world celebrates, with fireworks, the end of the old year and the beginning of a new year with all the promises it will be better than the last.
Fireworks aren’t needed in our faith
Tomorrow many of us will set out with the intentions of doing things differently this year. While in graduate school, one of my neighbors would observe the arrival of the new year by shouting out into the apartment complex courtyard. He would shout out what his resolutions were. A few of those resolutions were about his faith. The Lord doesn’t want us to use verbal fireworks to announce our intentions. In fact, the Lord doesn’t want us to do anything beyond what the Bible teaches.
The apostle James wrote, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed (James 1:22-25). The Lord intends us not to just talk about our faith; He wants us to be active participants in it!
Fireworks can be a distraction
Within the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells about two men praying in the temple. Jesus taught, Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:10-13). The pharisee was distracted by his own fireworks to the extent he couldn’t see the condition of his heart.
He was so busy proclaiming his spirituality that he could not see the real condition of his heart. He couldn’t see beyond the loud booms and bright flashes of light of his own proclamation to see the sincerity of the publican’s prayer. The publican wasn’t praying so that everyone can hear. He wasn’t telling the Lord what he planned to do. He was simply seeking the Lord in a heartfelt and sincere prayer.
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