Friday, December 25, 2009

The True Christmas Spirit

With the Christmas season here, I can't help but think of all those Christian brothers and sisters scattered among us who, because of conscience, do not observe Christmas.  I recently sent an email to one, and found myself deleting the 'Merry Christmas' conclusion, in place of 'Warm Blessings in the Lamb.'  Now, I don't hold to this position myself, but Scripture commands me to regard their conscientious objection with the utmost sensitivity, as they are a perfect example of a modern-day equivalent to the 'weaker brethren' in 1st-century Corinth.
This is one of the Biblical principles many of us have completely backward today:  
the 'weaker brethren' are not those brethren who are living in excessive sin, they are those brethren who are living in excessive restriction; they are not those with too little holiness, they are those with too little liberty.  The first class of people are not weak, but carnal, and Scripture commands us to deal with their sin, through careful confrontation and public ecclesiastical discipline when appropriate.  But toward the latter, we are commanded to forgo the enjoyment of our own perfectly-legitimate liberties in deference to the conscience-oriented scruples of our weaker brethren, if and when the occasion arises.  And so I wonder, how willing would our churches be to accommodate our anti-Christmas 'weaker brethren'?  Would we even be willing to change or do without a single thing - wreaths on the church door, a Christmas tree clip-art on the front of the bulletin ... any single, little thing for their sakes'?

I realize that this is an issue many church will not have to face, but as a thought experiment, I think it reveals how seldom we are willing to relinquish the smallest of what we perceive to be ours and how violently possessive we are of our "rights" - too often we are Americans first and Christians second, ever willing to shed blood to 'get ours'.  May we be more like the Christ of the Christmas we are celebrating, Who, although He was actually God, didn't cling to His Divinity, but willingly gave it all up to become like a Slave.  Being born as a human, He was obedient to death, even death on a cross [Phil 2.5-8].

1 comment:

krod ( said...

Great post on the subject of weaker brethren. I agree with the overall premise, though the choice of Christmas to demonstrate the point brought some thoughts to mind.
I believe it's important to distinguish the observance of Christmas by Christians individually versus by Christians gathering together for worship (i.e. adding the Christmas play, etc.)
Those who cannot privately enjoy an activity that our culture engages in for fear that they are offending God may be considered weaker brethren (as there is no Scripture to suggest that we ought not to be giving gifts and showing hospitality on Dec. 25th).
Yet, those who wish to keep Christmas thoughts/activities outside of the Church's worship do so on the grounds of their understanding of Scripture; believing that God desires us to bring Him worship that (both inwardly and outwardly) is in spirit and in truth. They don't believe there's a place to add to the worship that God has commanded, as adding our Christmas innovations would not be "in truth." (i.e. clearly commanded true worship as defined by the Scriptures.)