Nazarene Space

SO YOU ARE NOT KEEPING CHRISTMAS?
By
John A. Halford
(Originally Published in the Plain Truth Magazine in the 1980's)
("Jesus" has been revised to "Yeshua" throughout)




So you have decided it's time to make some changes. This year you and your family are (sssh--don't let the neighbors know!)--not going to keep Christmas! But it isn't quite as easy as that though, is it?

Christmas has become so much a part of most people's lives that not to observe it can mean a major disruption. No Christmas cards. What will Aunt Tess think? No relatives over for Christmas dinner. No decorations. No lights or Santa Claus. You'll have to try to avoid the office party, and you'd better write to the school explaining that you don't want little Fred to play an angel in the Christmas play. And no tree.

I remember the first time we didn't have a tree. It had always been a feature in our house. We would go to a lot of trouble to decorate it beautifully, and then put it in the front window for all to see. A good-looking tree was a status symbol in our neighborhood and, though I do say it myself, ours was one of the best and most impressive. But we noticed in the Bible where God made some pretty pointed remarks about decorated trees. Check it for yourself in Jeremiah 10:3-4.

God said it was a futile, pagan custom--a clear case of worshipping Messiah in vain. So--no tree. Even though we knew we had done the right thing, we really missed that tree. The neighbors all had them, sparkling in their windows, but our window remained dark. We missed it so much that we cheated a bit. We put up a few decorations--not a tree, mind you, just a few bits and pieces to make the place look more cheerful.

And we had a Christmas dinner, only we didn't call it that. It was only a celebration. We felt guilty about it, because we knew we had compromised. It was just that the old way seemed so comfortable and without a tree and all the rest of the paraphernalia, Christmas just didn't seem like--er, Christmas.

Yeshua knew this would happen. He explained to His disciples that they would indeed miss some aspects of the old way of life, and that even as they learned the truth from Him they would look back nostalgically from time to time. Yeshua taught an important lesson in Luke 5:36-39: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old" (verse 36).

Any seamstress understands that. New, unshrunk material cannot be used to patch old, worn garments. When it shrinks, it will tear the old cloth even worse than before.

Yeshua' second analogy is not quite so easy for us to follow in the 20th century: "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins" (verses 37-38). In New Testament times glass bottles were rare, so wine was often transported in animal skins, usually from goats. They made a strong, airtight and moisture-proof container, but you had to be careful. New wine that had not finished fermenting gave off gas that would expand the skins.

A new wineskin had some "give" to it, and would allow for the expansion. But old, used skins lost their elasticity. They would burst. The wine would be spilled and the wineskin ruined. But why tell people that? Yeshua's business was not to give the multitude helpful household hints. Yeshua was using a familiar situation to teach an aspect of Christian living.
 

Withdrawal symptoms

When someone begins to understand the teachings of the Bible, it is a totally new experience--unlike anything he or she has ever known--like new wine or an unused piece of cloth. Now, what most of us do is try to fit this new truth into our old way of life. That is only natural, because it is hard to change, and no one likes to admit having been wrong.

The old way of life is familiar and comfortable, and we want to hang on to as much of it as possible. How about you? Perhaps you have fond memories of the Easter sunrise service, the fun of Halloween and those beautiful candlelight carol services down at the old family church. The truth comes smashing into inherited religious ideas and preconceived notions of right and wrong. It challenges comfortable beliefs, making you question things you have always done.

This new way--even if it is right--sometimes seems like an unwelcome intruder, and you find yourself resenting it. Yeshua warned us that that could happen: "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better"' (verse 39).

It is not surprising that so many people, even though they acknowledge the truth, still prefer to cling to their old beliefs. Or perhaps they do as my family did when we met the truth halfway, with a sort of "unChristmas" celebration. We didn't enjoy our "unChristmas." You never can if you know that you are compromising with what is right. We were trying to put our new wine in the old bottle, and we spoiled everything.
 

All the way

Don't make that mistake. If you are beginning to understand what it means to be a real Christian, realize that it is going to demand positive action on your part. You can't have it both ways, observing this world's customs and still expecting the blessing of the world tomorrow. "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not the things which I say?" Yeshua thundered (Luke 6:46).

He expects total commitment. He demands that we come out of the Babylon of confusion that characterizes so much religion today. So along with the excitement of learning new truth comes the responsibility of making some painful decisions. Don't compromise. God does not want to take from us anything that is good. His way of life is filled with exciting experiences that mean something and lead somewhere, not empty, senseless but often very expensive rituals.

As you take the plunge and follow God's way of life, you will begin to miss the "old wine" less and less. You will see it for what it is--a hollow counterfeit of the real thing.

God is showing you the way to freedom from all that. Instead of looking back at the fraudulent ways of this world, you will begin to anticipate the excitement of helping others learn the truth in the world tomorrow.

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Views: 652

Comment by William Anthony Dlubak on December 7, 2014 at 12:39pm
I know the Scriptures in ref to worship. From the tree's in Jeremiah to staying away from pagan worship days. But, as long as you are obedient to Lev 23 including Shabbat, is it wrong to give Yeshua worship even though the day happens to fall on a pagan day? I am not referring to including santa claus, yule tides, misletoes ect., but the oppurtunity to tell children (pre-school age) who Yeshua is, what He accomplished along with building off of the said man-made holiday? I remember as a small child, I knew of Yeshua FIRST, through the celebration of His Birth, even though we all know that He wasn't born on that day. Is this not a great time to bring little children to the Truth about Yeshua, who was raised in a Gentile atmosphere? As long as man KEEPS God's Moadim, is it wrong to glorify Yeshua on ANY day if not EVERY day? I can see where Christmas can be used as a successful tool to start an infant child's journey to the Truth, as where it starts with many Gentile children? We should not let ANY day be condemned to worship God, if we obey His Moadim and keep such a day strickly focused on Elohim! It would be a wonderful day to end Channukah, which we can teach our children about Channukah also!
Comment by James Trimm on December 7, 2014 at 12:52pm

Trying to sanctify a pagan holiday is like eating meat offered up to idols. Channukah is the antipathy of Christmas.  The point of Channukah is resisting pagan customs and practices... that is what the maccabees were doing.  Eliezer died rather than eat meat offered to idols.  The pig Antiochus Epiphanies offered on the alter was the Christmas ham, the boar, the preferred sacrifice to Nimrod in his various forms, who was killed by a boar.

Comment by William Anthony Dlubak on December 7, 2014 at 1:06pm
Are we eating food sacrificed to idols? Are we actually sanctifying this day? Are we glorifying anyone else but the Son of God? Are we eating a sacrificial anything? Did I say eat pork, or the meat of pigs? Absolutely NOT! I am just saying it is wrong to worship the Son of God just because of the day, as long as we are obedient to ALL of God's others? I see your point, but I think you fail to see mine!
Comment by James Trimm on December 7, 2014 at 1:30pm

Just as eating food offered to idols gives the bad witness of appearing to endorse the Idolatry (see 1Cor, 8-10) thus also celebrating pagan holidays appears to endorse idolatry.  

Comment by James Trimm on December 7, 2014 at 1:34pm

Just as the idols do not change the meat, the paganism does not change the day.  None the less since it is known that the meat was offered to idols, we are prohibbeted from eating it, not because of the day or the meat, bur because of the apparent endorsement of idolatry.  Likewise it is common knowledge that these were are pagan holidays (Christmas, Easter etc.).  The information is in any encyclopedia, even in popular newspaper and magazine articles that often appear this time of year.  Celebrating the day, thus endorses the idolatry. 

Comment by James Trimm on December 7, 2014 at 1:40pm

“Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
(Eph. 5:11).

The Torah reminds us:

“You shall not follow a multitude to do evil”
(Ex. 23:2)

And as Y’shua himself said:

“That which is highly esteemed among men is abominable in the sight of Elohim”
(Luke 16:15)

And as Paul writes:

“Be you not conformed to this world but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may know what is that good and acceptable and wholehearted will of G-d.”
(Rom. 12:2)

Comment by William Anthony Dlubak on December 7, 2014 at 2:19pm

There is NO evil in worshiping the Son of God on ANY day as long as you keep God's Moadim!  Yeshua said, "Its not what you put in your mouth that defiles you, its what comes out." If ALL men worshipped Yeshua, would it be an abomination? If you remove the paganism, what is the sin? Is it the day? We should worship everyday! Shalom...

 

Comment by James Trimm on December 7, 2014 at 2:20pm

And there is no evil in eating beef... but there is evil in appearing to endorse idolatry, so if beef had been offered up to idols and you know it has been, you are prohibbeted from eating it.  The same is true with a day that has been offered up to idols. 

Comment by William Anthony Dlubak on December 7, 2014 at 2:39pm
If I get a chance to preach or worship Yeshua's Glory accordingly on ANY day, I WILL take it, and let Elohim deal with Me accordingly!
Comment by William Anthony Dlubak on December 7, 2014 at 2:41pm
(me accordingly) sorry for the capital M

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