PastorChat: Freedom and Final Answer

((… and yes, it’s long… but it’s good stuff, Maynard!!))

I came home from the meeting with Pastor feeling anxious to take what what I found and make it work to the good… in helping me to figure out what to do about Christmas, since I wasn’t convinced my doubts and questions were answered.

And on my computer screen was the Gift-giving link I’d found just before leaving.  Well… you know me ((grins!!))… I had to read it before filing/tossing it, right?  And the scripture leapt off the page at me.  ((Amazing what the Lord puts deliberately in our path at just the right time – when I came home ready for it – there it sat, waiting patiently for me!!))  The scripture was from Romans 14: 

Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. Romans 14:22  The will of God must come above all else.  Which is exactly what I want to do.  But is it God’s will for us to turn a pagan holy day into a Christian holy day… and celebrate a festival not set up for us in scripture?  Hrm. 

As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food [or festival?] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. Romans 14:14  Here’s the REAL question – is celebrating Christmas wrong (unclean) or not??  This basically says that no festival – Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving is unclean to a Believer.  Obviously Christmas is not essential to our faith or spelled out in scripture, so it is not core or doctrine.  However, think of 1 Corinthians 10:23-24: “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. Every holiday is permissible to the Believer, but we must discern what is beneficial and constructive for us to do in light of others.

“…anyone regards…” (in Romans 14:14) indicates conviction… so comparing the aspects of Christmas to scripture… what do we find?  December 25th as Christ’s birthdate is untruth.  The King thing is untrue.  The three wise men is untrue.  The wise men at the manger is untrue.  The angels at the manger is untrue.  Christmas trees are pagan in origin – actually warned against in scripture (Jeremiah 10:2-4).  Mistletoe is pagan in origin.  Santa Claus is untruth.  That’s a LOT of untruth.  Untruth would be unclean, right?

Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.  Romans 14:16  I’ve always considered Christmas to be good.  I’ve sung the songs, decked the tree, wrapped the gifts… but I’ve discovered so many outright lies in the Christmas story this year, I’m wondering if it’s a good thing.  Isn’t lying evil? 

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  Romans 14:19  The way to peace is to go with the flow, and not stir the pot.  However… does that lead to mutual edification – Passing on untruths?  On the other hand, it’s a perfect opportunity to share Christ with the world, which is definately edification… no?  Which is what Christians promote.  So which is it – pass on the untruths, go with the flow, and share Christ… or recognize the untruth and stand against it?

Do not destroy the work of God [ie. truth?] for the sake of food [Christmas]. All food [festival] is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.  Romans 14:20  Ok… so lies cause confusion (ie. stumbling).  And lies taint God’s pure-white truth to gray… (ie. destroy it).

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  Romans 14:22  Back to the ‘don’t condemn yourself by what you approve’ thang again.  And it says not to put your convictions on anyone else.  ((I’d love to just know what my convictions should be!!))

…everything that does not come from faith is sin. Romans 14:23b How about THAT for a wrap-up statement?  If it doesn’t come from faith, it’s sin.  All of the stuff I mentioned above as untruth isn’t from faith.  Then… it’s sin.  ((ouch.))

I cross-referenced to I Corinthians, and found more interesting scripture regarding this topic:      

Some people are still so accustomed to idolsthat when they eat such food… as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  – 1 Corinthians 8:7-12

Matthew Henry states it like this:  “Strong Christians should be very careful to avoid what will offend weak ones, or lay a stumbling-block in their way.” We don’t want to teach untruth, we don’t want to confuse people with things that aren’t right.  But that doesn’t mean we [Believers] can’t have a day set aside for Christ’s birthday, because “All things are permissible”.  As long as we hold to truth and truth alone, it will be beneficial to the edification of others… right?  My Evangelical Commentary says, “Suitable for the Christian is the armor of light, which reflects Christ [who is the Way and the Truth] – behaving honorably by living a Christ-like life… [We are to be like Him – truthful – not promoting false things] The stronger Christian who has freedom to partake of all things must not use his freedom to trip up others. [So as long as we don’t promote untruths that might cause confusion or lead astray nonnies/newbies… it’s ok to have Christmas]

Jesus himself said (Mark 7:20-23) What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.

So I FINALLY have a conclusion to my whole Christmas questioning thing:  Because I am a Believer and worship only one God and serve Him with all of my heart and mind and soul and strength, it is permissible for me to set aside one day to celebrate Christ’s birth.  As long as I do not present any untruth in doing so, or lead people astray with false teaching.   Corinthians said that eating the food set aside for idols (or, celebrating on a day set aside as Mithras birthday?) does not matter – for we believe only in one God and know that Mithras is folly and idols are “nothing at all in the world” (1 Corinthians 8:4)  Christmas trees and holly wreaths may be pagan to other people, but there are tales that incorporate them into the Gospel Nativity message that we can present instead, and therefore the purpose of them for pagan belief does not matter and is also ‘”nothing at all in the world.”  So long as we don’t portray untruth, we are fine. 

So… I’m taking the wise men out of my nativites.  I’m getting rid of the Santa Claus on my door.  I’m going to teach Lydia the story of Christ’s birth minus the Kings and the harps and the trumpets.  I’m going to hold to what’s true, and share truth with everyone I meet.  But I’m not going to condemn others in their choices, because as I had to come to a realization about these things, so do they.  Sound good?

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