Mr. Scrooge, Alive & Well!
Words of Life!
Volume 2, Number 10, December 1991
A Publication Ministry of Word of Life Baptist Church
by Fred G. Zaspel
I am generally a happy person, really! At Christmas time it is especially so. But I confess, in recent years it has become increasingly common to hear Christians condemn the holiday. And these people tend to make happiness a bit more difficult for me.
Please don't get me wrong. If you simply don't like all the hoopla surrounding our modern Christmas observances you are certainly under no obligation to put up any decorations--Santa Clauses, manger scenes or anything else. What bothers me is the legalistic spirit of an increasing number of Chris tians who condemn those who do enjoy these traditions.
Now I am not one who is much for traditions. In fact, when it becomes mandatory I rebel as much as anyone! But the other side of that same coin is the freedom to choose. Do we have it?
Granted, the Christmas holiday is not Scripturally endorsed. But neither is it forbidden. Christian freedom would seem to allow some choice here!
For example, Jesus participated in Jewish holiday festivities which were not of Biblical origin--the feast of dedication (Hanukkah). This was a religious holiday of extra-biblical origin, yet our Lord did not think the observance wrong.
The apostle Paul was very emphatic on this score. This champion of Christian freedom went so far as to say, in effect, that observing such practices was for him a helpful, if not necessary, part of his ministry! Whenever possible he would comply with the customs and traditions of the community in which he ministered (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Such traditions, which have no inherent good or evil, are perfectly permissible and even helpful in Christian witness.
Not that I want to be negative--although those Scrooges out there do make it tempting! But it is a bit disconcerting to see well-intentioned Christians create issues where there are none. They make Christianity appear to be a legalistic system of "touch not!" (Colossians 2:21). The result is a bad name for other Christians and a more difficult time in witnessing--all for needless negativism.
It is fascinating to see just how much freedom the Scriptures give to the Christian. It is more startling to see how many Christians are unwilling to allow it. (Some seem deathly afraid that someone, somewhere, is having too much fun!)
Yes, for us Christmas is much more than stockings and round men in red suits. But these customs and traditions need not be viewed as enemies of true piety.
There now, having said all that I feel much better!