My Bag of Oranges

A Simple Bag of Oranges


As we approach Christmas, I wanted to share with you some memories of this time of year. I used to buy a bag of oranges while Christmas shopping. Actually, it was not really a big deal — I could pretty much buy oranges any time I wanted. It was, however, Christmas time and I had a flashback to my youth. Every year I got an apple and an orange in my Christmas stocking, along with some assorted nuts and small toys.


The reason I used to get the fruit at Christmas time was because my parents always got apples and oranges when they were young. They grew up in a much less affluent time. Fresh fruit was a huge treat for them. So, they passed that onto us. Then I kept it going.


When my parents bought Christmas gifts for us kids, they included apples and oranges because it brought back happy memories of special treats. So, when I saw the oranges, I suddenly had a craving for the “good old days” even though, fresh fruit is prevalent and not quite the treat of long ago.


Remembering the “Good Old Days” is nothing new. Every generation seems to do it. Carly Simon closed her song, “Anticipation,” with:

These are the good old days
And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days


Solomon knew it was foolish to wish for the “Good Old Days.” He said in Ecclesiastes 7:10 (ESV):

Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.


We look back and things seemed better. Food tasted better. Celebrations were happier. Life was simpler. But you know the reality, people are people. Every generation struggles with the same basic issues. Sometimes they are more intense than others but the issues were basically the same issues.


The good old days also stimulate our traditions. Tradition is like money, it is neutral. The “love of money” or the love of tradition over God is the problem. The “Rich Young Ruler” found out that he loved or trusted his money more than Jesus and walked away from Him (see Luke 18:18-30). BTW, Jesus let the man go. He did not compromise or change His terms of discipleship.


There is nothing really wrong with traditions until tradition becomes law and interferes with our relationship to God. Some traditions are actually encouraged by the Bible. Notice Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV):

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.


In Matthew 15:3 (ESV) Jesus challenged some of the Jewish religious leaders with this question:

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?


When we abuse tradition we can break God’s commands. Once those actions were approved by God and brought people closer to Him. Over time the tradition can become our focus rather than the purpose behind the tradition. The same tradition that brought people closer to God can lead them away from Him.


A fact we must keep in mind is found in John 14:6 (ESV):

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We do not trust or focus on traditions. We focus on Jesus. Jesus gives us eternal life, not our traditions.


Do we ever look back to the “good old days” with fond memories in our churches? Do we want to recreate those things because those memories make us happy and secure? Maybe those things originally had a particular purpose. Maybe a particular style of worship gave us a sense of “peace and order out of chaos.”


One of the challenges about the church is finding successful methods in every generation without compromising the integrity or the purpose of the gospel. There are lines we do not cross. There are truths we always uphold. But we say, “times, they are a-changin’.” It may be in this day and time that we need to simplify what we do. Sometimes we complicate things too much. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV):

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


I like this quote of simplification by E.M. Bounds:

Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men who the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not come on machinery but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer.


David had a group of men from Issachar who had, “understanding of the times” according to 1 Chronicles 12.32. What are the modern times teaching us? How can we find and share the good news to people who hunger for it? There is certainly a need for God to be in every corner of our lives today. We don’t have to get too fancy or complicated, it’s all about the faith of (or in) Christ that matters, according to Romans 3:22.


There is nothing wrong with buying a bag of oranges for Christmas if we choose. There is nothing wrong with many of the spiritual things we have done in the past. Our challenge is to find the means to develop a closer walk with God – even if it is not the traditional way of “we’ve always done it this way.”



Keep The Light of Freshness with God Burning!