After my wife and I had accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior way back in the early 1980s we began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church. The church celebrated the Christmas season just as most churches do but I had gotten ahold of some materials from fundamentalist sources which warned against celebrating Christmas, Easter, or other holidays since they were of pagan origin. We had come out of Roman Catholicism, which is ALL ABOUT ceremonies, rituals, feast days, and holidays, and I was concerned about falling back into that.
After reading the information we decided not to celebrate Christmas or Easter for a couple of years but that created a big scandal with our unbelieving family and friends. They assumed we were in some type of “extremist cult” like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Branch Davidians. I felt that my hard stand on Christmas had become an impediment to my witness for Christ so adopted a less dogmatic approach; I don’t go out of my way to celebrate Christmas, every day in the Lord is the same to me, but I will join with others in remembering the birth of Jesus, when God the Son took on flesh on His mission to save the the lost (like me!). Let’s face it, Christmas is a secular holiday for the vast majority of people but believers can use the occasion to talk about Jesus in an inviting way and that’s a good thing.
I walked away from the Lord for a very long “season” but returned to Him in 2014. We joined a small Southern Baptist church close to home that had just 30-40 adults in attendance on a typical Sunday so everyone was involved. The church introduced an Advent wreath that year as part of their Christmas celebration and I was asked to light one of the candles and say a prayer on one of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. I accepted but I struggled with it. I personally don’t go for liturgical calendars, lighting candles as religious symbols, etc. If other believers enjoy such things, that’s fine for them, but it’s not for me. Anyway, I figured that opting out would seem kind of ridiculous so I went ahead and lit the Advent candle. As it turned out, we left that church after one year anyway because it became abundantly clear that the young pastor was far too ecumenical – I cringed every time he quoted Catholic theologians from the pulpit. I imagine they’ll soon be incorporating other religious rituals as well.
When it comes to the holidays, every believer has to follow the leading of the Lord and his or her own conscience. But this Christmas I’m looking forward to telling my friends and family about Jesus!
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?…One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” – Romans 14:4&5