Celebrating the Tradition of Christmas
Dave Long – December 16, 2005
Are traditions wrong, evil or sinful? The answer is only if they violate Scripture, or if they claim to be equal to or above Scripture by requiring men to do something that the Bible does not require. Otherwise traditions can be a good thing. They help us celebrate things that are important – birthdays, victories, accomplishments. They build continuity from one generation to another. They bring people together. They build thanksgiving into our hearts for things that God has done.
Even traditions that are developed to counter sinful things in the world can be a good thing. On campuses across America students have a tradition of gathering together in dormitories for evenings of fun, relaxation and what is know as “partying”. Unfortunately these traditions are often drunken affairs filled with excess. A few years ago a group of Christians decided to capitalize on this worldly tradition by adapting it for Christ’s glory. So they developed their own tradition of “pizza night”. They threw dorm parties with free pizza instead of beer, with the only requirement for admission being that you came with at least one spiritual question. Ask your question and you got free pizza. Through the traditions and practices of man came a tradition for the glory of God.
Imagine what it would be like if Saturday afternoon college football games evolved into something similar to the old Roman gatherings where they slaughtered Christians. What if every Saturday afternoon, horrible ungodly things began to take place in stadiums across
In the same way, the tradition of celebrating Christmas is not an evil or sinful thing. It is a tradition of remembering and giving thanks for something that is wonderful and at the heart of our religion. Even if (and there is evidence that we have gotten it wrong and that Christmas is not a capitulation to the heathen customs of the world), but even if the tradition of celebrating Christmas did arise as a counter measure to the practices of the world, the tradition is not sinful if it doesn’t violate Scripture (and certainly remembering and giving thanks for Christ’s advent is not a violation of the Bible), and if it does not rise above the Bible and claim to have divine mandate. I have never known a church disciplining someone for having a conviction of not participating in the traditions of Christmas. We do need to be clearer in stating that Christmas is not a divine holy day, but rather a wonderful Christian tradition.
Traditions can be a great thing, even long and widely held traditions. Are there abuses? Absolutely! Our culture abounds in them. So there is great need for each individual and family and church to be careful to not violate the commands of God. But with that carefulness there is also great freedom and flexibility to enter into the tradition according to one’s desire and ability to use it for the glory of God.