Developing a Biblically Sound View of Christian Participation in Holiday Festivities

Contrary to what many people think, a Biblically sound view of anything should bring freedom and joy.  I know there will be a chorus of those responding, “but not license!”  However, I venture to suggest that God emphasizes what we will be like as we grow in knowing Him, rather than what we need to do to satisfy Him.

It is like any healthy relationship, where more mistakes and misunderstandings occur in the early stages.  But, in this case, we are the only ones who need to learn.  God already has a complete grasp on what is best for all involved.  He has lovingly carried out the only action necessary to satisfy Him.  We simply choose to recognize that and love Him in return.

If this is understood, all the various arguments about how a Christian should or shouldn’t participate in holidays become passe’.  Those who claim that certain rituals define the Christian experience are really only describing cultural traditions, often unique to their culture, but taught to all cultures as somehow innately Christian.  On the other hand, anyone who shuns holidays as unChristian is in danger of legalism of the opposite extreme.

The Biblical record does not assign any festivals to Christianity.  This is, once again, in complete contrast to the law.  The closest the text comes is in encouraging fellowship among those who trust in the sacrifice of Christ.  When we meet each other, we are supposed to remind each other of the goodness of God and the complete work of Jesus Christ, as well as provide help and kind words due to the trials of life.

No dates are set.  No order of business outlined.  The story mentions various scenarios of meetings, but only as description of relationship, not as prescription of performance.  To claim more is to superimpose theoretically on believers what God chose to ignore.  If anything is implied, it is that every time believers gather together it is a family celebration!

Neither is celebration forbidden.  There are examples of and admonitions to join in with cultural affairs.  

  • Don’t ask too many questions and unnecessarily complicate events.
  • Be considerate of how others might be confused by your actions.
  • Don’t feel burdened by religious pressure either way.

If anyone gets hung up on the fact that traditions are based on pagan ideas, consider that God made everything.  Someone’s misuse of a part of creation, or wrong conclusions about what it means, in no way invalidate the creation of those things for our enjoyment.  If you are not worshipping false gods, there is no problem.  Just because a false religion claims an idea, activity, or decoration doesn’t make it theirs.

Trying to reclaim a holiday as originally Christian is also foolish.  Aside from the lack of basis for this, you cannot force someone to a heartfelt approval of the holy implications of a holiday anymore than you can force them to love.  The unbeliever sees the silliness of this and then questions the true nature of this thing we call “faith.”  It makes Christianity look just like all the other religions of the world.  Unfortunately for many who go by the name Christian, maybe it is – if they live in bondage to ritual.

So, apparently, holidays and any accompanying rituals are wholly at the discretion of each follower of the Way.  Deciding how to participate or celebrate has as much impact on our spirituality as deciding which car to buy.  We do that based on our family budget, needs, and priorities.  If someone judges you because of your car, he is shallow or a busybody.  He is often trying to establish value for his own life by meaningless comparisons.

If we are Christian, it pervades every aspect of our being every day.  We are walking temples wherein God’s Spirit dwells.  It is the kind of existence that non-believers fantasize about, if movies are any indication.  We cannot help but celebrate in every season and from the heart.  The tendency of ritual requirements or prohibitions is to stifle this.  We need to allow God’s creativity in each other to find expression in how we celebrate life!


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