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Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas and holidays

Now that Christmas 2011 has passed and the holiday spirit lingers I think it is as good a time for this brief document.

Christmas, as far as believers in Christ are concerned, is no more a biblical or commanded day to be observed by the saints in Christ. There are two weak and tragic attitudes and views disciples in Christ often take towards observance of holidays.

The first view in favor of observance of holidays is on the basis of the legal recognition of a holiday, such as Christmas, in America. This, plus its cultural relevance, is all the permission some Christians need to observe a holiday. This view is earthly and carnal and hardly reflects the disciples response as beign with the knowledge and understanding of the scriptures.

The second view is the rejection of Christmas as much as Halloween and all holidays as being of pagan origin. Some of the passages cited include Colossians, "Let no one therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17 which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s." The encouragement by Paul to the Colosse saints was to NOT ALLOW or permit anyone to impose their judgments on the believer. It was NOT a prohibition by Paul to the saints at Colosse not to observe any particular holiday. Elsewhere in Romans 14 Paul's point was to admonish both the brother who judges another just as he himself is judged concerning observance or non-observance of days.

A related element of this view concerns the pagan origin of holidays, such as Christmas, as the reason Christians are not to observe it. This is mistaken.

The truth is Paul was free from the law of Moses. He definitely would never teach the saints to observe a holiday, whether pagan or established by God. Yet, this is precisely what Paul did with Pentecost.

For Paul had determined to sail past Ephesus, that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 19)

He arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21) to learn there was a lot of misinformation about his teaching. He accepted the advise of the saints in Jerusalem, went with other men who had a vow into the temple in accordance with the law of Moses and Jewish custom. Incidentally, this did nothing to appease the ignorant, misinformed Jews who still stirred the people to seize Paul.

Is Paul's observance of Pentecost to be taken by the saints in Christ today as an authoritative example to observe Pentecost? After all Pentecost was NOT a pagan holiday. It was established by God.

When the mob seized Paul it provided him the opportunity to proclaim the gospel. (Acts 22) Paul was never at loss as are many saints today to draw a connection between his circumstance and the message of the kingdom. For example he took the inscription, "To the Unknown god" as his perfect cue to preach. Similarly, when the provocation in his spirit could bear it no longer he proclaimed the gospel. (Acts 17:16) Of course, Paul, like Jesus, would never turn down the opportunity or an invitation to preach in synagogue. How many brethren would refuse lest misinformation about them might spread and they fall out of favor with men.

It's time, especially teachers and preachers of the word to the people of God, developed an understanding beyond mere trite, bland responses on observances of holidays. This is equally true of teachers and preachers who rail ignorantly about pagan holidays and do nothing to enlighten the saints nor to proclaim Jesus. This is vital as much for the saints in Christ in Nigeria, Eygpt or America.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2012 to one and all. Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, rejoice.

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