I have long been an admirer of Clint Archer. “Dr. Clint Archer has been the senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Durban, South Africa since 2005. He is a graduate of the Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, California (MDiv, ThM, DMin) and has written several published books, including The Preacher’s Payday, A Visitor’s Guide to Hell, The Home Team, and Holding the Rope.”
On December 10th, on the blog Cripplegate, Dr. Clint posted a clear message about those who celebrate Christmas through Christian conviction and those who abstain from Christmas celebrations through Christian conviction. It is a message that needs to be heard, so I am doing my small part to spread his message. Everything past this point is all Clint:
It isn’t wrong to have a fern on my porch or a cactus in my office (chosen for its resilience to neglect, a prerequisite for any plant life under my supervision). But apparently having a fir tree, imitation or genuine, is considered by some to be morally repugnant; though only in December.
I’m not going to launch a crusade to promote the observance of Christmas with all its tiresome trappings and requisite redundancies; what I am going to do is call for some reasonableness by those believers who vociferously object to their brothers and sisters in Christ enjoying seasonal festivities.
First, let us just concede that Christians do not have to celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas…or Easter, or Pentecost, or St Ledger’s Day, or MLK’s birthday, or Sabbath (Col 2:16), or Thursdays (named for the Nordic god of thunder). Anyone is free to boycott Christmas to the glory of God.
There are actual Bible verses that say that…
Rom 14:4-6 “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 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. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Christians are not obligated to revere any day above another including their own birthdays, though for some reason several Christmas haters I know circle on their calendars the day of the year that they are celebrated by getting presents without having to give them.
But conversely, it needs to be acknowledged that Christians are free to esteem one day better than another if they are convinced in their own mind. I am convinced in my own mind that Christmas is a thoroughly enjoyable time of family traditions and themed parties and eggnog lattes at Starbucks. You need not be as convinced, and that is perfectly okay. Just please don’t equate my appreciation of cheap tinsel with pagan idolatry. Jeremiah 10:3-4 is NOT referring to Christmas trees, but hand-crafted idols, hewn for the express purpose of worshipping as a god.
I love Jesus.
I worship him with every breath, and I give him all the glory for each gift I get or am able to give, and I am thankful for particular seasons that remind me to contemplate various aspects of his life, birth, death, resurrection, and ascension.
I do not worship my fake plastic tree, nor do I feed subliminal pagan doctrine to my kids through the metallic orbs I hang on it. And any believer who suggests what I am doing is sub-Christian is behaving in an unloving and misinformed way, and should repent.
But there is much of the yuletide spirit that is neither godly nor ungodly. Celebrate it or ignore it, that is your liberty in Christ. If I judge or look down on abstainers then I am missing the point that liberty to forgo celebration is a blood-bought right of my Christmas-shunning brothers and sisters.
All I ask in return is that they recognize that the Bible permits me to don a cheesy red and green sweater while playing Yankee swap to the glory of God.
That mutual respect is the best gift we can give each other this year.