Are We Setting an Example for Christmas-Keepers?
I have been a "non-Christmas-observer" since 1965. I have written on the subject as well as shared the truth of its origins with others many times. But I am a little puzzled at the attitude that many anti-Christmas sermons and articles seem to have. Rather than expose the history, or condemn the "system" or the "deception of Satan", they condemn the people who are involved in the practice. As far as I can tell, most of the people who observe this celebration (including myself in my "unconverted days") do not do so out of "willful rebellion" against God, nor out of conscious disrespect for our Savior, nor out of an attitude of defiance—but out of ignorance. They were born into a world and society where these things had been ignorantly perpetuated for generations. The vast majority do not know any better.
So why the frequent anger, condemnation and ridicule by so many toward the ignorant masses? Can we remember when we were one of those in the ignorant masses ourselves? Most of us probably were, unless were were born into a family that attended with a "Church of God", the Jehovah’s Witnesses or other group that rejects Christmas observance. Most WCG folks were always taught that "only God could open a mind" to understand the truth on this, as well as many other issues. I certainly know that, at least in my case, He didn’t open my mind because I was seeking Him at the start, nor because I was a deep student of the Bible, or any such thing. It was His sovereign act of reaching out to me in my ignorance.
From what I can tell in the Old Testament scriptures, the reason for severe condemnation by God toward the backsliding Israelites who went to "mixing" true worship with Baal worship... was that they had the truth right in front of them! Their nation’s and society’s traditions for many years were based on the truth. They had the Tabernacle or Temple. They had the priesthood. They had the annual Holy Days. And yet they craved the other. Thus it was the fact that they willfully, with full knowledge of what they were doing, turned from the truth to a heathen system, that brought the wrath of God on them.
This is not to indicate that Christmas celebration is acceptable to God. Of course it is not. It is just to indicate that I’m not all that convinced that God’s "greatest disappointment" is that the ignorant masses don’t worship Him in spirit and in truth. He reveals His truth not because of our own righteousness but because of His plans, His grace and His mercy. The vast majority of Sabbatarian Holy Day keepers, who have been given the blessing of being called to be witnesses of His truth have all too often not been a "light on the hill" for His truth. For they have either been secluded by their own exclusivism ("hiding their light under a bushel"), or they have been obnoxiously arrogant rather than lovingly reaching out to others. Some do shine their light for the world, but when the world comes to look they are repelled by the smell of infighting amongst the Sabbatarians over minor points of doctrine—treating each other not as brethren but as enemies! A few have given a rotten name (an "evil report" to those "outside") to the "ways" of God by the scandalous behavior of some in their leadership. How are all these ignorant masses to hear a clear witness about Christmas and other issues when those who bring the message have such an "uncertain sound"?
During the years from 1988 through 1995, our family was "in the wilderness"—totally cut off from my brethren in the COG movement. (We were rejected from one group for mailing one person one piece of literature, and from another for refusing to say its leader was the Ezekiel watchman.) Many times I spoke with others about the observance of the Holy Days, Feast of Tabernacles, and so on. These were sincere folks wanting to know more. They have often shown fascination—not disgust—at my beliefs and wanted to know more. But it was always puzzling to them when they got around to commenting, "Wow, that sounds really neat. So where will you be keeping the Feast of Tabernacles this year?" And I had to tell them that my family could not go to a Feast site where there were any other folks of "like mind" on these observances. We were not welcome at any of them—not because of some sin, but because of "church politics". It was even more puzzling for my friends to discover that many of the groups who were observing the Holy Days would have nothing to do with one another. These groups would hold "rival" feast sites within miles of one another and punish or disfellowship members caught attending the other group!
I sincerely believe that it is this situation that is of more concern to our Father than what those who have "never known" the truth about His ways and days are doing. No, there will be no Christmas in the Kingdom. But neither will there be the internecene squabbles and foolishness that there have been for so long among those who claim the name of Yashua the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. And neither will there be any "honor" for the kind of carnal men whom "Church of God" members seem to keep wanting to put on pedestals as "God’s Anointed". Amos 5:21-26 (NIV) speaks of idoatry on Feast days. Is it possible that these verses are more of a warning about idolizing "church leaders" than they are about keeping Christmas?
I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! "Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves.
It may be that the "star"—the idolizing of human church leaders by people—is more repulsive to God than the ones folks ignorantly put on the tops of fir trees in their houses each December!
To help someone understand the errors of Christmas, write Servant’s News for our free article The Reason for the Season or read it on-line at Alan Ruth’s website: www.biblestudy.org.&
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