Thursday, December 20, 2007

my say on the upcoming Christmas and legalism and random advice

As I’m typing this one, it’s 5 days before Christmas. Exactly a week after Christmas, it will be 2008. I admit that I felt that I didn’t maximize my time that much. I wasted a significant amount of my time. If I just used my time, talent, and money properly, I could have done better. I could have passed my comprehensive exam. I could have saved more. I’m quite a disappointment. However, like I always say to the youngsters in the new church, “yes, what we see wrong is really true. However, it’s the attitude that counts after you saw the wrong things.” Indeed, it is true. Yes, I may have wasted a significant amount of time, and it will never be returned. That’s the point. Why will I complain on things that I can’t have anymore, like a lost time? It will just be another learning experience for me. This year, for the first time in the youth ministry, be it in the old or new church, I organized an inter-church activity which is simply called YPF day. I thanked God for using me on this ministry in spite of that terribly stupid mistake. Yes, I wasted my time one way or another, but there’s learning from that. Thus, those experiences were not really a waste.

Back in the old church, Christmas celebration is not the thing. In fact, even greeting, “Merry Christmas!” is discouraged. Well, there are many reasons why. Christmas celebration has its pagan origin. Even pastors who celebrate Christmas acknowledged this. In fact, Puritans, under the leadership Cromwell, outlawed this celebration. If there will come a time that I’m allowed to go back to the old church, I’ll respect that stand of the old church. However, there are many things pagan in the Philippines that even Baptist churches have:
1) our name itself
2) the calendar (Gregorian calendar; January comes from Janus for example)
3) the name of the days of the week (Saturday was derived from Saturn)

Those are some stuff that is pagan in origin. If we don’t like Christmas because of its pagan origin, then, let us scrap our name, our calendar. Besides, Philippines is a Gentile nation, not Jewish, what will you expect? How about not accepting Christmas bonus for the sake of that “stand”, even if your bonuses are 5 figured amount or more?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bulldoze Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas. Besides, let me tell you my personal stand on Christmas:

1) Jesus Christ was not born on December 25.
2) Christmas, though pagan in nature, is a perfect time to share God’s Word.
3) This is a perfect time to show generosity (by the way, generosity is Biblical).
4) The wise men gave gifts and worship Jesus; there’s no alcohol drinking involved.
5) Christmas time is a holiday; it’s a best time to be with family, friends, loved ones. Is that wrong?

Now, my point is this: if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I will respect that. However, please respect me for greeting you, “Merry Christmas”, the way I respect other people’s stand on not celebrating Christmas.

Random note: for me, believers should be legalistic. Oops. Yes, you saw the writings right: believers should be legalistic. Wait, does that mean I believe that salvation is by works? No way.

Let me explain: the Bible is full of orders, not requests. For example, “Pray without ceasing.” It’s an order, not an option. Bible is legalistic; it’s full of things that a believer in Christ MUST DO. However, when it comes to salvation, it’s by grace through faith. Still, there is a legal color in that. If a person doesn’t follow what 1 John 1:9, John 3:16, Romans 10:13, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, etc. said, and made another way of salvation, the person will surely go to Hell.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we are living in the church age or grace dispensation. I believed that man can only be saved by grace through faith. I just said those two paragraphs just to say that people accusing Baptists as legalistic to carefully pick the term to be used. Personally, what I discouraged is what Diotrephes in III John 9 did: being too technical and dogmatic.

Well, just a random note.

Christmas is coming. I know this is cliché, but instead of thinking what to receive, think of what you can give. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Don’t think, “Hah, you start it.” Or “I know someone who needs to start it.” Don’t think that way. Instead, think of what you, and you alone (no finger pointing… Finger pointing is the reason why there are Christians inside the church who don’t participate. They think other people can do that), can give. It can be material or something intangibles. Don’t misunderstand my words; it’s purely a reminder, a piece of advice. That’s all. Try it.

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