Monday, February 01, 2016

Those Evil Christmas Trees

I've been in a conversation with someone on-line who claims that Jeremiah 10:2-4 condemns Christmas trees (and by extension, Christmas).

That chapter condemns idols, not Christmas trees (go read the chapter for yourself; it won't take but 2-3 minutes).

Here's my response to him:

Yes, we are to judge righteous judgment; but the scriptures (Rom 14:4-6) specifically state to not judge a brother about keeping one day as more special than any other day.

Your zeal is to be commended; it's obvious you want to please the Lord, and that is an awesome thing. But it should not be an excuse to condemn a brother for doing something the scriptures specifically allow (honoring one day to the Lord more so than some other day).

The kingdom of God is not a matter of what you eat or what you drink or what days you consider higher than others, but of 'doing the right thing' and being at peace with one another and being joyous in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17, paraphrased).

Focusing on "regulations" (ESV; "ordinances" in the KJV and WEB) such as "don't touch, don't taste, don't handle", or judging someone in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath (Col 2:16-23) sounds holy, like you're offering acceptable "worship", but they're the wrong thing to focus on - these things are just "rudiments of the world", shadows of the real thing; these are "precepts of men" (same passage).

When you make rules which God has not made (like "Thou shalt not observe Christmas"), they are mere precepts of men (or "commandments of men" as Jesus put it), and when you teach them as doctrine, you're participating in vain, empty worship (Matt 15:9).

The kingdom of God is not about finding rules buried "between the lines" and then judging brothers for not honoring the rules you've "found"; it's about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It's not about keeping the letter of the law, but the Spirit - Paul believes this point is so important he says it over and over (Rom 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor 3:6).

If you perceive the "letter of the law" to forbid honoring the birth of Jesus on Christmas and using that occasion to fulfill the joy prophesied by the angels, using that occasion to proclaim the name of Jesus to the world, then you can not do so by faith, and you should absolutely not do so. But you should not condemn your brothers who believe they are keeping the spirit of God's will by honoring the joyous birth of his son and reminding the world once a year of the message they would otherwise quickly forget, that God Is With Us.

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