Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Response to Christmas Post Comments

My sweet friends, I am so happy and grateful that you have been so bold to share your thoughts, responses, and comments on my Christmas post.  I also thank you for your reassurance of your love... I hope so!  While we are not celebrating Christmas anymore, we certainly have no plans to stop loving or being friends with those who do celebrate it.  If anyone decides they don't need my friendship anymore because we do not celebrate Christmas anymore, well, that is just simply sad. :0(

I am responding here because it would take me probably 5 or more "comments" to respond there!  It is no way an effort to argue or start a fight.  My blog has been a place where I share God's work in our life for years and several people have been asking about our not celebrating Christmas.  It was the time to make our conviction and choice a part of this blog as it would be something obviously "missing" as it was present for the years before.

We have disagreements with people about all kinds of things.  I do not take it personally... (major growth from the Lord alone!) but I have also learned that I can not nor do I need to please all people.  I ONLY strive to please the Lord... and love everyone else.  I can love others without agreeing with them.  I go to parties at friend's houses who are nonbelievers and where more than half the people are drunk.  However, we do not get drunk.  We remain who we are and remain true to our conviction even in the middle of that environment.  And our prayer is that our "difference" will be seen as a light and draw people to Christ... we have no desire to blend in with that world.  And when dirty jokes are being told, we leave the room.  We do not participate and we do not laugh.  We don't call them on the carpet in front of everyone either.  We are just an example of not participating... but we still can love them.

 I do feel very strongly we are called to be "different" from the world.  Jesus was different from all the sinners He taught.  He was the light.... and sinners were drawn to that light... to that truth.  He was in the middle of sinners but He never tried to blend in... He could do nothing but to stand out.  He presented truth in love and without apology.  When He was with sinners, He presented truth to them, forgave them, AND told them to sin no more.

Another thing I feel strongly about is that we are called to be obedient.  Just as I feel "grace" is highly misused... I feel that "freedom" is also greatly misused in the Christian faith, culture, community, church... whatever we Christians are or how you want to say it.  Over and over we are told that IF we are a child of God, we will be obedient. (Luke 15:10)  IF we "know" God, (1 John 1, 2) love God (1 John 4,5) we will keep His commandments.  Jesus even said "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

We are called to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh anymore.  This means there is change after you are a believer.  You come to Christ as you are but you leave the encounter with Him transformed.  And the transforming (dying to yourself, spiritual growth, spiritual walk, spiritual maturity) continues until you die.  We are told we were once part of darkness but now we are light.  Darkness and light are total opposites.  And we are total opposites because we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ... or we die to ourselves and allow Christ to live through us is a better way of putting it.  That is total opposite.  Change would be seen if we, in fact, died to ourselves.  Freedom in Christ does not mean do whatever you want to do.  It means freedom from law and freedom from the control of sin.  Paul strongly says:  "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but certain, fearful expectation of judgement, and fiery indignation which will devour adversaries."  Hebrews 10:26

We are called to be one body, in one faith, and one mind.  Paul says: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel..." Philippians 1:27  This makes me think that Christians are to look very much alike, especially since we are all supposed to be reflecting ONE.. Christ. 

John says: "Do not love the world OR the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For ALL that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world." 1 John 2:15

Paul says: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3,4

Paul says: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:3

Paul says: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principals of the world and not according to Christ."  Col 2:8

Paul says: "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves to lewdness, to work all uncleanliness with greediness." Ephesians 4: 17-19

Paul says: " Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with a nonbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: I will dwell in them And walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people."  Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."  2 Corinthians 6: 14-18
And- "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 7:1

Not loving the "world" (culture, traditions, influences, sin) does not mean you don't love the sinners drowning in it.  Jude 20 tells us to have compassion and with others, "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh."  It doesn't say jump in there with them.  "Hating EVEN the garment defiled by flesh."  This is a strong statement.  Sadly, the church today has softened sin.  But God HATES sin... can not associate with it, have anything to do with it... it is not soft.  And that is why there is Christ.

Now, we are called to be separate but not withdrawn.  We are given the great commission as the "to do" list after accepting salvation.  But just as Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity and did not take on the culture... we do not.  He did not bark and yell how everyone was wrong, but he was an example by being different and God used him in mighty ways!   And boy do we live in a modern day Babylon!
Many people stop going to church because they see nothing different once going.  Then they think we are all hypocrites.  Some even think they were better off before "accepting Jesus."  Being a christian does not stop at receiving salvation.  There is much, much more to that walk and intimate relationship with God and Christ and the Holy Spirit.

We are choosing not to celebrate Christmas for many, many reasons.  But we still love everyone who does.  We are not participating in a holiday but we are very much still active in the world.  We are going through December with no tree and no presents and no Santa... but we are not going without Christ.

We have made many other decisions that don't go along with our culture.  We do not wear booty shorts and clothing that our breasts hang out of, but we still love our friends who do.  And we are an example of dressing more modestly... out of our desire to be obedient to the Lord... that's it.  I am trying to be an example of and teach my girls their bodies are not sex objects to be used for their gain but they are temples of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  This is very counter cultural in our culture.  We turned off our cable two years ago.  We still love our friends who watch tv.  There is nothing wrong with "tv" just 80% of what's on it... including commercials.  We don't walk into people's houses who are watching tv and tell them they should not be watching something.  But we are an example of having that out of the house and several people have "tried" it due to seeing it in our family and love not having it.  Others often talk about trying it.  We don't listen to various popular secular songs because the lyrics are trash.  We have also changed some of our eating habits after learning how animals are treated and what is in the food (it's counter culture to not frequent McDonalds!) but we don't expect everyone else to do the same.  (It would be nice and might force some change... but we don't expect it.)

I could have a Buddha statue in my house on a bookshelf for a decoration because I think it's cute.  I may not worship it, but it doesn't change what it stands for.  Three generations from now, my great grandchildren may have no idea what it is... it was just in Grammy's house.  But when they find out what it is and what it stands for... they would have to make a decision... "Do I want it in my house or not."

That is what we have done with Christmas.  We have made the decision not to celebrate it for many reasons.  It will have NOTHING to do with the opportunities we have to reach people with the love of Christ, as we do this all year.  It will have NOTHING to do with the opportunities we have to serve people, as we do this all year.  It will have NOTHING to do with our love for people who do choose to celebrate it.  It will have EVERYTHING to do with our desire to please and obey our Father.  We will not remove ourselves from people who do not agree, if they remove themselves, then it is their choice. 
A rich man walked up to Jesus and said he wanted to follow him.  Jesus knew his heart, "loved him" anyway and told him to sell everything he had and follow him.  The man left sad.  Jesus did not say, "OK... I know you're only in it a little bit, and you don't really want to die to yourself... but come along anyway."  No.  Jesus told him what to do and the man chose not to do it AND JESUS LET HIM WALK AWAY. But verse 21 says, "Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him..."  I think that is an incredible example.  He loved him, but did not compromise for him.  If people decide to avoid me because I do not celebrate Christmas, then that is sad.  But I can love them anyway.

It's ironic to me that Christmas, in fact, is seen largely as a non-religious holiday by the world. According to USA today, 89% of people give gifts, 86% hang with friends, 80% put up a tree, and 58% encourage belief in Christ as Savior, 38% encourage belief in Santa Clause, and 28% read about Christ's birth in the Bible. 89% of agnostics celebrate Christmas as well as 55% who have no religious identity at all. Christmas, according to the world, is more about gifts and friends than Christ. It's more about being with family than about Christ. One author says, " It's solstice with friends. It's Saturnalia at the office party." It's ironic to me that Christmas started out having nothing to do with Christ and it's Christians who are trying to put Him there. It should be "Put Christ in Christmas" rather than "Keep Christ in Christmas."

The Christmas story is a story of the Roman Empire and it's relationship with the Roman Catholic Church to try and maintain political gains, influence, and power.  It was an effort to gain people for power and political gain and control.  There is no example of anyone celebrating Christ's birth in the Bible.  But there is a commandment and are examples of believers celebrating His death.

This is our personal decision and we force it on no one just as we force none of our other decisions on anyone.  Just as we can not force Christ on anyone.  Everyone has their own personal walk with the Lord.  I share because I am called to share our life and what God is doing in it.  I share because I have a blog I have been writing for years that has also documented our own personal growth in this "Beautiful Life".  I share because several people were asking.  I do not judge others.  But I also will not compromise what I believe because everyone else is doing it.

Thank you again, for letting me share and for caring enough to comment.  Whether or not we celebrate Christmas or whether or not you agree doesn't have to have anything to do with our relationship.  I love you all.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:01 AM

    More telling... from the same USA Today article, only 28% of people read or talk about the Christmas story from the Bible. How do you keep Christ in Christmas if you don't even talk about Christ's birth?
    In a recent survery, 74% of "Generation-X" or "Millenials" (ages 18-29) say the things they enjoy about the Christmas season have nothing to do with Christ at all. 55% of aethiests celebrate Christmas as well as the majority of people "with no religious identity".
    Why do we believe what we believe? What is the litmus test of our faith? Are we honest with ourselves about our willingness to devote ourselves fully to our faith in Christ even if if comes at great sacrifice, inconvenience, and even loss of comfort? These are questions which only require us to aswer to one person... He is the author of our faith and the one who knows and will judge our hearts.
    There is plenty of information available on the subject of Christ's birth and when it took place, as well as the origins of the Christmas celebration. Any debate should also be supported by God's word.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!