Holidays are any days we set aside for a special purpose and celebrate instead of working (or doing the normal daily routine). From a biblical perspective, there is no moral mandate to celebrate any specific holiday. Instead, believers are given the freedom to choose how they will engage the holidays as long as it is pleasing and glorifying to the Lord.
There Are No Biblical Holidays For Believers
- The Bible does not command believers to celebrate or avoid any holidays (including the Old Testament celebrations). It does not commend or condemn any special or holy days that we have to observe as part of our faith. Believers have the liberty to apply biblical principles and being fully persuaded by their conscience as they choose wether or not to celebrate the holidays of the surrounding culture or traditions they have grown up with. This means that it is possible for different believers to come to different views about the same holiday and both are permissible.
Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-17
- Traditionally, Sunday has been seen as the “Christian Sabbath,” or the day that believers are to not work in order to gather together as a church to remember and worship the resurrected Lord Jesus. It is true that Jesus resurrected on Sunday and that we are commanded to meet together as local churches, but we are never prescribed to do it on Sunday. The bible does describe that the early church meeting on Sundays (as well as other days) and this has become norm for most churches but it is not the law. As believers, we can’t be legalistic about Sunday, but we should be committed to our local churches and the necessity to attend its services. (Note: Because of the New Testament example and church unity, I do think Sunday is the possibly the best and greatest choice.)
Acts 2:46; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:25
Christian Cultural Holiday Wars
- Traditions: Many popular holidays that are celebrated by Christians, especially those in the Western part of the world and that have spread to the church globally, have become sacred traditions among believers (such as Christmas and Easter). Secular culture and retailers have also secularized and commercialized these holidays which has caused a culture war between believers and unbelievers. When unbelievers don’t recognize the holiday with the same credence as believers do (and vice versa) a cultural war is started. As believers, we should remember the following:
- Our traditions, no matter what biblical significance we bestow upon them, are not mandated by scripture and are just traditions. Defending them and their significance is not the same as defending the Bible and its truths.
- We can’t and shouldn’t compel unbelievers to participate in what we deem a Christian holiday. There is no reason we should expect other believers, let alone unbelievers, to cater to the specific way the we choose to obverse a day.
- Misleading: Often believers look for historical significance to dictate their desire to claim a holiday or to justify their behavior in celebration a certain tradition or holiday. But it is often misleading to the newer generation of believers, because even though historically many holidays have Christian roots they also have pagan roots. Because we live in a fallen world, our cultures often get mixed together. As believers, we need to make sure that we are redeeming the culture around us.
- Secularization and Commercialization: We can expect the culture that we live in around us to secularize and commercial any holiday where they can cease from work to find pleasure, entertainment or make a profit. Maybe this is why the Bible doesn’t give us any holidays. The one observance that we are given is the Lord’s Supper (although it is not necessarily a holiday). This was given to the church. Only believers can participate. (Who would even think of inviting an unbeliever to participate?). There is no specific day that it must be observed but the observance is irregular. It is beautifully designed to be guarded from secular and commercial influences so that its observance stays pure and true.
Being A Witness In The Culture
- Salt and Light: As believers, we are salt and light among the unbelievers around us. Jesus doesn’t want us to war against them for not following our traditions or go into hiding because their traditions are evil, but He wants us to be engage the culture so that we can keep truth from decaying and people from spoiling their lives. We are to enhance their lives through the works, gospel and word of God. We should be aware that those around us are watching us and they know what our works are like (wether good or bad). Therefore, we should intentionally live out our good works, not so we can receive praise like the Pharisees, but so that they will glorify our Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16; John 1:14; Matthew 20:28; Acts 17:22-34; Luke 5:29
- All believers are faced with deciding what they are going to do with the culture around them. There are parts of the culture that we see as morally bad and other parts that we see as morally good. Many things fall into the category of just being amoral—not right or wrong. Therefore, believers who desire to engage the world as salt and light need to remember the following biblical principles:
- Don’t love the world—any human way or system that is against God. If something is obviously morally bad or sin is involved in the celebration of a holiday, then believers should not participate. We are called out from the unbelievers around us at this point and should shine our light through our difference.
1 John 2:15-16
- Do glorify God. As believers we can take the morally bad and transform it—not through participation in the sinful ways, but through exchanging the sinful with the God glorifying. Just as the thief who is redeemed stops stealing and starts giving—he doesn’t avoid money or material possessions altogether. We should look at every situation saying, “How can I transform this to please and glory God in this?” It doesn’t matter if the thing is originally good, bad or amoral, we have a new motivation that says to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.
Romans 14:4-8; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17
- Pilgrims: As believers, we need to remember that this world is not our home. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Our lives should be more characteristic of the gospel. Therefore, we are to set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth
Philippians 1:27, 3:20; Matthew 6:20; John 17:24; Colossians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:4; Colossians 3:2
- What holidays does the Bible commend or condemn?
- What are two things we should remember to avoid culture wars over holidays?
- What does it mean to be salt and light?
- What two principles do we need to apply when engaging culture?
- What does it mean to be a pilgrim?