Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas: Secular Holiday or Religious Holy Day?

People celebrate Christmas different ways. It is common for people to exchange gifts, spend time with family, and reflect upon the blessings that they have. Many people also attach a religious significance to the day, using it to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

How are Christians to treat this day? As a religious holy day? Just a secular holiday? Or should Christians avoid any sort of observance whatsoever? Let us notice what the Bible has to say.

Christmas as a secular holiday -- In Romans 14, Paul discusses matters of personal opinion (Romans 14:1). He uses two illustrations -- the eating of meats and the observing of days. Both of these were things that could be done while attaching some sort of religious significance to it (1 Corinthians 8:7; Galatians 4:10-11), but such was not inherent in the practice. One could eat meat or observe days without applying the religious meaning that others applied, and do so acceptably. Paul affirms that observing certain days falls into the category of personal liberty (Romans 14:5-6).

Christmas as a religious holy day -- Since Christmas is used to commemorate the birth of Christ, many believe that Christians would have to observe this day religiously. But matters of religious service differ from matters of liberty. We must have authority for all that we do in our service to God (Colossians 3:17). Where would we go for such authority in the Bible for the religious observance of Christmas? Jesus gave no instruction concerning this commemoration. The apostles also gave no instructions, either. There is no example of the early church practicing it. Plus, the Bible gives no indication that Jesus was born on, or even near, December 25th.

We cannot invent our own religious practices and still please God (Matthew 7:21-23; Colossians 2:23). If we want to observe Christmas as a secular holiday, fine. But let's not go beyond the liberty that God has given us.

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