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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Should Christians Celebrate? Part II--Does God Like Holidays?

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Before I step any farther into the topic of Christians and holidays, I need to note that I do not believe the setting aside of any day besides the Lord's Day is required by God. Paul writes in Romans 14,

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

We are given a tremendous amount of liberty in this area. My family may celebrate Christmas, Resurrection Day, and whatever else, but if you don't believe it would glorify God for your family to do so, please understand that I have no problem with that whatsoever. There are huge issues with the major holidays celebrated in our country today, and I can think of plenty of valid reasons why a household may decide that it's not enough of a priority to justify the struggle. The Baucham family, for instance, has chosen not to observe Christmas in their household. You can read their reasons here, and I greatly respect the stance they have made.

So this is not a question of whether holidays are lawful, but of whether they are profitable. My first question, as mentioned in my introduction, is this: Does God like holidays?

By the way, when I say “holiday,” I mean a day in which normal life's routines are set aside in some fashion to commemorate or celebrate an event or person. Dictionary.com says it a little fancier:

A day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.”

First I want to look at a few examples of sentiments proclaimed throughout the Psalms.

Psalm 78:

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might,
and the wonders that He has done.”

Psalm 105:

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
tell of all His wondrous works!”

Psalm 111:

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.”

In these verses we see
   ~Remembering God's works
   ~Studying God's works
   ~Proclaiming God's works

As well as
   ~Praising Him for them
   ~Thanking Him for them.

These are all shown as worthy activities for children of God, and I think I'm going to venture to roll them all up into one verb: celebrate. If the above verses don't sound celebratory enough, try Psalm 98:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!”

As far as whether or not God approves of celebration in the form of holidays, i.e. certain days of the year being set apart to celebrate specific works which He has done, a look at Leviticus 23 will reveal that for His people, He mandated it. And have you read those requirements? That is a lot of holiday for one year.

Because of the Romans verse, I don't believe these feasts are mandated in the New Covenant, but neither have they been obliterated (although certain aspects of them, such as sacrifices, have). So I think that yes, holidays can be a legitimate form of celebration for the follower of Christ. 

What about the extra-biblical holidays that many of us celebrate today? This brings forward our next question, to be discussed in Part 3...

Does God Like Our Holidays?