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No Reindeer in Dixie

I saw snowflakes last night. In South Georgia?!

OK, so they weren’t real. These were plastic decorations on poles in a park. And it's a good thing they weren’t real. They must be 3 feet in diameter. Imagine real snowflakes that large! I can see the headlines: "Thousands Smashed by Super-Sized Snow". At least, no two would die in quite the same way!

What I wonder is how elements of winter up north got so ingrained down south? Dreaming of a white Christmas? Please! It hasn’t snowed on Christmas around here in my lifetime (and that dates back to about the last ice age)! One horse open sleigh? There are no jingle bells in Georgia! Winter wonderland? Well, occasionally we do put on a jacket.

So, how did such become part of local winter culture? I suspect through the influence of entertainment. The Broadway plays and songs and movies all came from a place where snow is common, and, as the entertainment became part of the national culture, so did the signs of a northern winter.

There is nothing wrong with artificial snowflakes even when it’s 70 degrees. But perhaps the possibility of being influenced by the surrounding culture should give us pause.

The prophet Zephaniah warned that God would “punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in foreign clothes” (Zephaniah 1:8). Was there something sinful about wearing imported clothes? Having checked the labels in my closet, I certainly hope not. The complaint is more about the motive than the manufacturer.

The upper class of Israel wanted to look like their neighbors. They wanted to be cool in the international community. But the neighbors were unbelievers. God knew that if his people wanted to be cool with them, they would soon be influenced to adopt the neighbors’ religious views, too. And they did.

We, too, are cautioned that we “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). It is easy to gradually drift into doing what most people around us are doing. We talk like the people of our surroundings (including adopting language we thought inappropriate a generation ago), we generally dress like they do (sometimes in ways considered indecent a few years ago), and we even begin to believe what the majority believes (like living together without marriage is OK). And we carry on religious traditions that are foreign to the Bible. Yet, God calls us to be different - to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Winter décor? Pick whatever you like. Lifestyle? Let God be the influence there.


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