By Robert Wayne LaCoste
On one of the recent meetings, a family asked me to an evening meal in their home. Naturally, as any good red-blooded American who loves Italian food would, I accepted.
I don’t suppose I had been seated five minutes when I was asked, “Bob, how do you feel about Christmas? Do you observe it?”
My answer for the past 25 years has always been the same. “I surely do not observe it as the birth of Christ, since God’s word says nothing about the birth of God’s Son from a when standpoint. However, I have no problem with observing it as any other national holiday in our country, paying notice to the folklore and festivities surrounding it, No Christian can attach any spiritual significance to it, though. A Christian can observe it non-religiously.”
My brother in Christ seemed startled at my response, and I feel that he spoke before thinking, as the next comment surely got my attention. “Well, Bob, to me it’s all idolatry.” Now, I have been called a lot of things over the years, but being called an idolater (and by one of my own brethren in Christ!) was indeed an eyebrow raiser. Since this brother had a son, I asked, “Was your son circumcised?” “Yes, he was,” came the response. “Why do you ask?” “Because Paul said that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2). “Well, err, he was circumcised, but not for spiritual reasons.” ‘,’Yes, I’m sure that’s the case,” I said. “But now, if you can take an act that was originally intended to be for spiritual reasons, and observe it non-spiritually or non-religiously, then why can’t I take a day that was originated for spiritual reasons and observe it nonreligiously?” My brother’s tone softened, his attitude changed remarkably, and he uttered, “I don’t press my convictions on Christmas. I take note of my brethren’s conscience and respect it.” “Ah,” I said, “Now there’s something we both agree on. Surely we must respect one another’s feeling on Christmas and not allow that liberty we hold to be, a cause of offense or stumbling one to the other.”
I wish more conversations about Christmas would end as this one. Dear reader, I have seen those professing to be children of God who will take something like Christmas and further divide God’s people. Just what we needed right? Wrong! What we need is a respect for one another’s conscience and allow that brother or sister their liberty as long as it isn’t flaunted in our face. Surely this is why Paul wrote Romans 14. This non-religious observance of Christmas is like the eating of meats and observing of other days, as the Romans -did. Paul noted, “One man esteemeth one. day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5).
Some consider putting up a tree or decorating their house hypocritical. “How could you ever convince your neighbor, especially if he’s Catholic, that you don’t believe in Christmas?” Oh, but I do believe in Christmas – from a non-religious standpoint. I have also been known to put a skeleton oil my door at Halloween or put a pumpkin in the window; however, that doesn’t mean I follow the pagan occult that originated that holiday, either! Dear reader, I know of Jews who put up lights and decorate things around Christmas time. Have you ever met a Jew who believed in the birth of Christ as being December 25, or for that matter believed in Christ, period? Let’s get serious! I may rest on Saturday, but no one ever accused me of being a Seventh Day Adventist. I have had fish on Friday, but no one ever accused me of being a, conservative Catholic. My, kids dress up and go trick-or-treating on Halloween, but no one ever accused us of paganism. In years and years of putting up my plastic Christmas tree no one has ever accused me of believing December 25 as the birth date of Jesus!
The issue again is: I will not flaunt my liberty. I will respect the feelings of my brethren opposed to an observation of this holiday, but as I respect theirs, I would appreciate not being branded as an idolater by them. Only when we make those teachings of Christ written in Scripture the standard for “righteous judgment” (John 7:24) and avoid any form of railing against a brother who chooses to exercise a liberty not regulated by God, shall we, dwell together in the peace the Lord taught.
Have , fun this holiday season. Observe what God wants observed, not man; but at the same time, allow your brethren their rightful liberty in Christ Jesus.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 24, p. 745
December 21, 1989