To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?

Two make-believe men who love God greatly are talking. One says to the other, “He can’t be. It is impossible. Don’t you know where He was born?”

“Of course I do,” the other man answers. “Everyone knows He was born in Galilee. However, not a man has ever lived who has done what this Man has done. He has given sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and raised the dead back to life. I met Lazarus myself and was at his burial.”

Years later two different fictitious men are talking. These two also love God. “I don’t believe it, and I will never believe it. He was responsible for my brother and his wife being dragged from their home and later killed.”

The other man says, “It is true he was responsible for many terrible things, and he has changed. They say Jesus Himself appeared to him. Now, instead of persecuting those who believe in Jesus, he preaches Jesus fearlessly to men who now want to kill him, too.”

Sadly, many people rejected Jesus because they thought they knew where He was born. Instead of evaluating the proofs, or fruits, Jesus gave them, they were debating His origin.

Saul was ruthless in his zeal of persecuting believers (Acts 9:1) until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4). Then he was a changed man, and he was eventually used as a vehicle of change in the lives of countless others. If someone were to reject Paul because of His past, that person would have to throw out most of the New Testament.

I have heard of some preachers who had a less-than-pure life until they encountered Jesus. Jesus then saved them and is now using them for His glory. I was saved in 1975, and up until that point my life was a typically lost person. Before salvation, even though I believed in God, I lived like the world. The same may be true for some who read these Corners. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Christians, of all people, should understand that the past is not to be the sole reason to reject something. We should prove all things. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).

As we test something, we look to its fruit, Scripture, and the Lord Jesus. What Jesus tells us through the Holy Spirit will not contradict Scripture. It would be easy if Scripture had an index and every word in the world was listed so all we had to do was look up the word and then we would be told what to do regarding it. However, our walk is all about our relationship with Jesus. He wants us asking Him about each aspect of our lives, and the answer we hear will be consistent with what we read in the Bible.

Every year at this time we are asked if we celebrate Christmas and why or why not. Many of those who read the Corners will have differing opinions as to whether Christians should celebrate Christmas, and I am not trying to start a debate. So for those who are convinced that the Lord Jesus has told you not to celebrate Christmas, please stop reading this. I’m not trying to persuade you or be a stumbling block in any way. In fact, I respect the position that many have in not wanting to celebrate Christmas. Some have gotten to that position in ways I don’t understand, but that is between them and the Lord. I don’t judge or condemn them for having a conviction and living by it. This Corner is for those who have either asked or wondered what our stand is on Christmas and our justification for it. Let each one be convinced in his own heart what Jesus is telling him to do.

New Testament believers are not commanded to celebrate Jesus’ birth nor His resurrection. Our family celebrates both. We are not commanded to celebrate birthdays either, and yet our family chooses to do that also. We are consistent in that. I can’t imagine us celebrating a family member’s birthday and not celebrating the birth of One Whom our lives revolve around. Jesus is so much more important than any member of the family in that He makes our lives meaningful and abundant. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). If we are going to celebrate a birth, it will be His, and a joyous one it is.

If you were to take a poll of the people you know to see how many are aware of the origin of Christmas, most would have no idea what you are talking about, and more would not care. In our country, most are still aware that this is the time Jesus’ birth is celebrated. They know that there are two primary holidays for the Christian church. One celebrates Jesus’ birth and the other His rising from the dead to glory. Non-Christians expect Christians to celebrate Christmas and Resurrection Sunday. In many ways, they think it odd if a Christian distances himself from the holiday identified with his God.

We are told to redeem the time. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). We have found that at Christmas time most people are more open to talking about Jesus than at other times of the year. In addition, we love having a special time of caroling to our neighbors. The children make tasty treats that we give out when we carol. Last year, one family was so touched by our caroling that they wrote a letter to the newspaper editor telling how special our stop at their home was. We love our neighbors, and we love Jesus. What a wonderful time to share the love of Jesus with others.

Another confirming reason we celebrate Christmas involves the giving of presents. Our children have learned to take delight in giving gifts to others. They will spend much time praying and discussing what they can give to each other. Usually, they will pair up so their money goes further to purchase a nicer gift. If I found that the children were focused on what they were going to get, that would concern me and be a reason to reevaluate celebrating Christmas. However, it is consistent with our goals that the children learn to be joyful givers.

The fact that we are not told to celebrate Jesus’ birth is not a problem for me as there are many things we do in life that we aren’t commanded to do in Scripture. However, the doing of something that isn’t specifically commanded in Scripture should not violate other teachings in Scripture. For example, we aren’t told to read our Bible every day, yet I do and encourage everyone in my family to as well. Scripture is clear that it is a good thing to read God’s Word. “The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalms 19:8). “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

God’s sending of His Son Jesus to Earth to atone for our sin is the very definition of love, and I find that something to celebrate and rejoice in. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

We celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmastime even though the date is incorrect. I’m okay with that because we tell our children that December 25th isn’t the exact date that Jesus was born. We are careful not to mix any untruth with how we celebrate. That is why we have nothing to do with Santa Claus and stockings. He is a lie. He doesn’t exist, and we have purposed to only speak truth to our children. If we were including Santa Claus, then I feel there would be clear reason not to celebrate Christmas.

The family who recently wrote asking for feedback about Christmas was receiving pressure from well-meaning friends that they shouldn’t celebrate Christmas because of its origins. It’s ironic, though, because we also receive e-mails from people who say they are pressured by well-meaning friends to participate in Halloween because it (they say) has good origins. Test all things, evaluate the fruit. One only has to look at the present-day fruits to see that Halloween is evil and there is nothing to redeem with it. One does not need to read too much Scripture to see that Halloween is to be rejected. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

May each family get a word from Jesus and confirm it from His Word.

Posted in: Dad's Corner

What About Me? – Part 3

When others find out that I am a homeschooling mom, one of their first questions will be, “When do you get time for yourself?” As I have reflected on my answer, I realize how prone I am to accepting their judgments that my life is not fulfilled unless I have personal time to do what I want to do. It is easy to buy into the “what about me?” mentality because it is most certainly the bent of my flesh. Because of this, it has been necessary for me to go to Jesus with questions about my time, my focus, my energy, my expectations, and my needs. In this series of Mom’s Corners on hard work, I am sharing with you what the Lord has put on my heart concerning these issues.

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:9-10). This sounds to me like a busy woman—one who has worked hard all of her life as she obediently followed Christ. There is no mention of anything she did for herself but only what she did in service to others that qualifies her for care from the church in widowhood. We see a picture of a woman, with her heart fully focused on the Lord, who spends her time in serving others.

Use of our time such as 1 Timothy 5:9-10 describes is of eternal value. This investment of our energy is where we are to find joy and fulfillment rather than in a quest for personal time, fun, or entertainment.

“But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:11-15).

In these verses, I believe we see the possible results of a self-focus in our lives as women: idleness, tattlers, and busybodies. Perhaps today we have a tendency to wander more from house to house via computers, but the idea still applies. These qualities are not held in esteem in these verses, but rather they are presenting a condemnation of this kind of selfishness and its outcome.

The direction, then, to keep from this kind of sin is to marry, bear children, and guide the house. In other words, the young widow is to be productive with her time in her own home. It sounds much like being a busy homeschool mom to me. Raising children and keeping house are encouraged as fruitful activities that cause Satan not to be able to speak reproachfully of us. My first priority is to be my family and my home. It is not to be getting time for my entertainment, hobbies, or fun.

My heart cry in these Mom’s Corners is to encourage each of us that the busyness of our lives, if it is spent in service to our family, is a good thing. It is what Jesus is calling us to do. If we are feeling overwhelmed, it may mean we need to go to the Lord and to our husbands to reevaluate priorities. Titus 2:4-5 makes it clear that our service begins in our homes, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). Too often, moms struggle not because of their daily work and homeschooling, but because of other responsibilities they have taken upon themselves.

Rather than the feelings and disappointment that go with not having quantities of leisure time, I would like to suggest that we embrace the workload we have with diligence, determination, and joy. We are told that everything we do we are to do as unto the Lord. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). It is hard for me to justify time spent in personal pursuits as being done unto the Lord if there is still serving of my family to be done.

Again, I want to emphasize that I am not saying we will never be able to spend time doing what we would choose to do, that we will never be able to relax, or that we should ruin our health by continual overworking. Instead, I am encouraging an acceptance of the workload we have been given with a focus on Jesus and on serving. In the midst of this, the Lord will give opportunities for what we like to do, and He will bring physical rest. He gives rest to our souls when our hearts are turned to Him rather than to ourselves. When my focus is on me, there is never enough ease or entertainment. I think if we want contentment in the calling God has given to us, we must receive the work before us and look away from “what about me?”

The question looms before me as it is regularly repeated from well-meaning friends: “When do you get time for yourself?” My response depends on the focus of my heart. I can begrudge what Jesus has called me to do. I can resent the gobbling of time that homeschooling my children takes. I can resist the workload of my homemaking tasks. I can be disappointed if I don’t get time for my own fun or pleasures. On the other hand, I can be filled with delight that I am able to homeschool. I can view each minute I have with my children as an opportunity to turn their hearts to Jesus. I can rejoice over every act of service I am able to offer my husband and my children. I can say, “Lord, my time is Your time. Use it as You will,” trusting Him fully with my life.