This week, I'm going to take a bit of a detour from the railroad we've been traveling with some posts focused upon Jesus' death and His memorial which we call the Lord's Supper (or the Eucharist for some).
As I prepare to publish this post, it's Easter week.
Easter means it's spring time.
The temperature is rising (or will be soon), the grass is starting to turn green, and we can begin coming out of our winter-long hiberations.
It reminds me of Easter egg hunts, family pictures, good food, and those delicious Cadbury Creme Eggs (yum!).
For women, I believe Easter also provides some form of wardrobe shift they seem to get excited about as well, so there's that.
Spiritually speaking, Easter reminds believers of the Passover, the great Jewish feast during which Jesus Christ suffered and died upon the cross at Calvary. It reminds us of our hope that, because He is risen, so we too will rise one day.
Sadly, Easter also brings with it an annual controversy that I wish would go away.
Every year at Easter and Christmas, some number of believers and churches will begin saying things like:
"We ought to be thankful for Jesus' death every day, not just on Easter,"
"Our church doesn't celebrate Easter because we're 'commanded' to observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday."
Bulletin articles will be written and sermons preached along these lines.
I understand where these people are coming from. I've had similar thoughts myself in the past.
It is true that we should celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection daily and that Scripture doesn't command us to celebrate Easter.
Although Scripture doesn't say anything about observing Easter specifically, thankfully GOD has given us instructions on the observance of days.
Let's consider that text together:
1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
(Rom. 14:1-23 NIV)
I love this Scripture!
Let me break this down for us real simple—put the hay down where the goats can get it, as my friend Joe says.
GOD is saying to us:
"If you want to celebrate holidays, that's great. If you don't, that's great. Either way, be convinced in your own mind and, whatever you do, do that for GOD. Stop arguing over matters like this! They aren't that important to Me, otherwise I would have told you what I want done. Pursue those things that build one another up and promote peace."
So friend, with a heart full of humility, love and fiery passion for the Spirit's Word and the people affected, I implore you:
Quit arguing over doubtful things like whether we should celebrate Easter!
Love each other as Jesus loves you.
Stop writing these awful bulletin articles putting down Easter and Christmas and those who celebrate these days.
Preachers, be cautious of the effect your words are having on the weak and lost seekers among you.
Speak the truth in love.
If you preach about celebrating Easter (either for or against), ensure the message of Rom. 14 is conveyed.