Merry Christmas Eve!
As I'm writing this I'm thinking about the words Merry Christmas and authoritarian, legalistic, control-oriented groups and the hypocrisy that surrounds the leaders of these places. They have an innate ability to twist into well-formed knots the basic joys in life. Christmas is certainly one of them. I won't condemn someone that comes to a place where they don't celebrate Christmas, but I won't tolerate them condemning me. After all, my conscience is free in this matter.
This post isn't about making deep theological arguments for or against Christmas, it's about what authoritarians (I use that term for simplicity's sake) do to their people when given an opportunity. For example, the topic of this blog, Grace Fellowship, has ridden a wave of hypocrisy for quite a while on the topic. Mike Reid began preaching on Christmas back in 2012 with a three-part series Is Christmas Biblical? Is it Sinful? Feel free to torture yourself if you are so inclined. The topic was regularly revisited every year in some form or another.
The shocker for me, shortly before we left, was the Christmas decorations that had seeped into one of the elder's homes. We had been invited for a lunch and were quite surprised. Additionally, as time went on a certain well-known street evangelist and his family took great joy in the holiday season, and even suggested a gift exchange...can you imagine? It wasn't the first time this family had overstepped unknown boundaries in the church. They came into the place innocent enough, not realizing these "unwritten rules" were in place. I've often wondered if they ever were called into the elder meeting to get it straightened out.
Recently I became aware of one of the leading families' daughters (newly married) had a beautiful tree on full display on a Facebook post. Another one of those rule-breakers that didn't have to follow the same standards as the rest of the sheep, but I digress....sigh. What I find most fascinating is that no matter what the organization there are always rules for thee but not for me.
We see it all over government, and we definitely see it in the legalism of church life. People will follow the rules, for the most part, but the one thing they hate and see-through is hypocrisy. Pay attention to what the leaders say in comparison to what they do. That is the tell-tale sign of poor leadership and has become a primary reason for many families that left or leave GFC.