Picking up where we left off, asking:Should we celebrate former pagan holidays turned Christian?
How do we walk it out when holidays come and we hold one opinion and someone we love believes something else? In the US we have an expression of 'taking the high road', which means refraining from that which could cause strife, for the sake of the moment. It means to walk in love and overlook differences for the sake of the relationship. Wow, that's being a Christian! It's so crazy it might just work!
Go to the Christmas party for 2 hours and honor your boss or relative, you aren't endorsing Christmas if you don't believe in it; you're endorsing your relationship with the other person or people. Be the bigger person. People confuse love. They don't realize loving a person isn't an endorsement of them or their lifestyle, it's just loving them because God created them.
Is your cause righteous?
In Romans 14 Paul confronts the opinions in the local church. Remember, like everyone from Acts through The Revelation, they all met in homes. Paul is writing to people meeting in homes for 'church'. But some had strong opinions about how those who sat across from them in some 'living room'. "I don't agree with..." echos from the pages of Romans 14.
"Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to the point of argument." Right there in v1 Paul enters the arena of the opinion. He says talk about your differences, but not to the point of argument. He is making a distinction between the absolute moral truth and the personally held opinions of those involved. Opinions must be brought into obedience of Christ. How is that done?
The issues were three:
Some said to eat only vegetables and they don't agree with those who eat meat. Some chose one day of the week as the day to worship, and they didn't agree with anyone else. The third issue was wine, mentioned just once here, in v21. Some said it was okay to drink wine, some said it wasn't. These same issues were covered in I Corinthians 8 and 10. Some connected to idol worship, some connected to Jewish Sabbaths and diets, some just personal choice.
Through v10 he tells them each one of us is a servant of the Lord, and He accepts us both, no matter our opinion on special days or our diets. He asks:Why are you judging another man's servant? Ouch. The other person is the Lord's servant, and if He accepts them, then it is none of our business. If He wants them to change, then He will deal with them, it isn't any of our business. That's between them and the Lord.
He also says if a person celebrates a day on which to worship, they do so unto the Lord. For the person who has no particular day that is special, that too is unto the Lord. Don't judge another man's servant.
In Colossians 2:10-23 Paul tells of the complete work of Jesus on the cross, and how we are complete in Him. Then he says 'Therefore don't let anyone judge you about food or drink or sabbath days...' Why? Because you are complete in Christ. It's that simple. To me, every day is a special day to worship Him. To me, every bite of food is special because it was given by Him. I'm complete in Him, so I have the freedom to worship on any day I want, and the freedom to eat or not eat what I want. I live life from the position of having already won, for Christ is in me. Wow.
Don't miss the point. Paul said it isn't anyone's business when it comes to personal opinion. He told those in Romans 14 to 'be fully persuaded in your own mind' - we should not act as defender nor evangelist for our particular opinion. The other person lives and dies for Christ. We do too. So it isn't our business.
Years ago I heard Kenneth E. Hagin tell of how some man in his church criticized his wife's hat. KEH told him something along the lines of 'Mind your own business, she dresses for herself and me, not for you.' lol.
It really is that simple. This principle if understood, will set a person on the path of bringing opinions into the obedience of Christ in every area of life. You can say "I would do things differently" or "I don't believe like that" and then let it stand at that. That means your opinions never get to the point of strife or division in your heart.
So what if there are things in their life you don't agree with? So what if they handled things differently than you expected or wanted? When we form opinions and others don't agree with our opinions, we have a choice. When we discover the Word says here and elsewhere to not judge someone else's servant, we must command our emotions and thoughts into obedience of Christ. When Jesus said first remove the log from our eyes before picking out the splinter in some else's eyes, He actually meant living like that. It means disciplining the thoughts and feelings.
If a family member or friend has a Christmas tree up, you don't have to show your disgust or disapproval, nor shun them. They celebrate Christmas with all the trimmings unto the Lord, or because it is just tradition, and you don't celebrate Christmas unto the Lord - so you're equal. Grow up and learn to live in peace with each other.
If someone wants the kids to hunt Easter eggs they aren't worshipping a pagan goddess, they are just having fun and not even thinking of some pagan from 1,000 years ago. They are just coloring eggs which actually goes back 1,000 years when the Eastern Church colored eggs red to remind them of new life in Christ and His blood shed for them.
Building on these things:
Paul said to make allowances one for another in Ephesians 4:2 and Colossians 3:13. The word translated 'forbear' or 'make allowances' means 'to endure, put up with, make allowance for, patience with, fortitude and persistence with'. How many Christians exhibit that towards one another? Towards a church?
Aren't Christians notorious for church hopping or online, criticizing or unsubscribing or talking against someone who believes differently than they? Hasn't Covid and the US elections demonstrated the immaturity of many believers in this area of character?
When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11 was about some of the 'white collar' believers not wanting to have the meal where they celebrated the Lord's Supper with the 'blue collar' believers. So they would eat at someone's home before and even get drunk, before joining the rest for the meeting. Paul told them because of their prejudice they had not rightly discerned the body of Christ and it had affected their immune systems (as we would put it today), and many were 'weak and sickly among you and many have even died early'.
In 11:19 he told them this prejudice revealed those who were mature and complete and who were immature. That's a good lesson for today's world. When you see a person forming opinions and withdrawing in strife or hurt, know in the big picture, this shows who is mature and walking in the things of God and who is not. The opportunity to grow is every event in life. If taken as a challenge where ego doesn't matter and only Christ does, we grow quickly.
On a practical level
Let me share something the Lord shared with my wife, Barb, years ago when our children were young and the issue of Halloween and costumes was a question we had to answer. We have lived since teens throwing our opinions against the wall of God's absolutes, and whatever falls off we let fall off, and we keep what sticks to His wall, if that makes sense. We might say that no matter what we believe, we want Him to have the final vote and correct us.
She was struggling with our boys wanting to dress up and get candy, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what marked Halloween with its modern celebration of all things evil and dark as different from the other holidays with pagan roots. Then she had it:"The other holidays have successfully been made into celebrations of Christ, but Halloween never has. It remains a celebration of the devil and all that is evil and dark." and words to that effect.
We couldn't change national culture on Halloween, but we could and did affect our family and church culture. Kids playing dress up is neither here nor there, though we've stayed away from darker themes, and kids will always want candy. So we found different ways to celebrate life in Christ during Halloween - as harvest festivals celebrating people coming to the Lord in His harvest, giving thanks for bountiful crops from the garden, and other family and church oriented parties and celebrations.
Should we celebrate former pagan holidays made Christian?
That's an answer for each heart. I've learned that false religion hates freedom. It tries to put every element of life into a well defined order of behavior. Whether it be Old Testament sacrifices - if I did this then it's 2 pigeon doves and x shekels, or if I did that it's a goat and some grain to be offered - religion tries to define every possible action and consequence in life.
Grace is much harder than the Old Testament law. The law measured action but not the heart. Grace measures the heart, the Lord Himself in us, measuring and critiquing our thoughts and motives (Hebrews 4:12-13). Each of us is accountable to Him as a Person.
It has been observed we judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intent. Walk in love. Refrain from forming opinions of things that are none of your business. It's easy once you get into the habit of catching yourself, realizing they answer to the Lord, not us... It sure takes the pressure and stress off...it's their story.
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org