Bible Studies/Christmas Celebration.
Dear J Webb
Christmas Day is celebrated for the birth of Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you be against lighting Fire crackers on the Christmas Day which Hindus celebrate during Diwali festival by lighting Fire crackers?.
I am not an expert on Hindu customs (such as the celebration of Diwali), and I have no knowledge about the feelings of Christians who live in a culture that is mostly Hindu. Accordingly, this is not a question that I can answer with great confidence. However, as a Bible scholar, I would suggest that you work with Paul's principles in 1 Corinthians as your guide in thinking through this issue.
Here are Paul's two discussions of the topic, in the Spoken English New Testament translation:
1 Cor. 8:1-13
1 You also asked me about things offered to idols. We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs people up, but love builds people up. 2 If somebody thinks they know something, they still donít know all they need to know. 3 But if someone loves God, theyíre known by God. 4 So, we know this about food thatís been offered to idols: an idol isnít anything real, and thereís no god except the One God. 5 Now, there may be so-called ďgodsĒ--whether in heaven or on earth. And so in a sense there are lots of gods and lots of lords. 6 But for us, the Father is the One God. Everything comes from him, and we exist for him. And we have one Lord, Jesus Christ. Everything exists through him, and we exist through him.
7 However, not everybody knows that. For example, some people are still under the influence of idol worship right now. They eat things offered to idols, and their conscience, which is weak, gets polluted. 8 But food doesnít get us approval with God. If we donít eat something, we donít get points taken awayóand if we do eat, we donít get more points. 9 But just make sure that your confidence in this doesnít become something for weak people to trip over. 10 After all, suppose someone sees you sitting down to eat in an idol temple. You know itís ok--but if that person has a weak conscience, wonít they be encouraged to eat things offered to idols? 11 Now the weak person is getting ruined by your knowledge--your brother or sister that Christ died for! 12 And so when you sin against your brothers and sisters, and harm their consciences, youíre sinning against Christ. 13 The conclusion is, if that kind of food trips up my brother or sister, I will never, ever eat meat again, so that I will not make my brother or sister stumble.
1 Cor. 10:19-33
19 So what am I saying? That something sacrificed to an idol counts for anything? 20 No, Iím saying that the things the Gentiles sacrifice are offered to demons, not to God. And I donít want you to be participants in demonic beings. 21 You canít drink the Lordís cup and also the cup of demons. You canít take part at the Lordís table and also at the table of demons. 22 Or shall we provoke the Lordís jealousy? Weíre not stronger than he is, are we?
23 ďEverythingís allowed,Ē but everythingís certainly not worth it. ďEverythingís allowed,Ē but everything sure doesnít build people up. 24 No one should be looking for their own advantageóinstead, they should be looking for the other personís. 25 Go ahead and eat everything sold at the butcherís shop. Donít try to find out where itís been before you buy it because of conscience. 26 After all, "The earth, and everything that fills it, belongs to the Lord" (Ps. 24:1; 50:12; 89:11).
27 Suppose a non-believing person invites you to dinner, and you want to go. Eat everything thatís put in front of you. Donít try to figure out where itís been before you eat it because of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, ďThis is meat thatís been offered to idols,Ē donít eat itófor the sake of the person who told you, and for the sake of conscience. 29Iím not talking about your own conscience now, but about the other personís. After all, why should my freedom be judged by somebody elseís conscience? 30 If Iím taking part with thankfulness, why should somebody be insulting me about what I give thanks for? 31 So, whether youíre eating, or drinking, or whatever youíre doing, do everything for the glory of God. 32 Try not to cause offense to Jews, to non-Jews, or to the community of God. 33 Thatís just what I do too. I always try to put everyone at ease. I donít look for my own benefit, but for everyoneís, so theyíll be saved. 1 Imitate me in this, just as Iím imitating Christ.
As I understand him, Paul says in these passages that if your conscious intention, as you think about doing something that has a religious meaning to other people (such as eating food that has been offered to an idol before it was sold in the marketplace) is not to serve the deities that are usually honored by this practice, then two principles apply to deciding whether to do it:
1. Does my conscience feel uneasy about doing this thing? For example, am I worried that I, by doing this thing, might be unconsciously hoping to gain the favor of the deities that others honor by this practice? If so, says Paul, don't do it. A former Hindu, in Paul's world, cannot both serve the One God of Jesus Christ and also try to gain the favor of other beings, who, in Paul's belief system, are not really deserving of divine service. For him you can't have it both ways. To follow Christ is to renounce all allegiance to the deities that you formerly worshiped and served. However, if your faith in God and in Christ is strong--you are so confident that the practice, in your case, can be offered as praise to God like all your activities in life as a Christian--then you are not forbidden to take part in it. On the other hand, if you start by thinking this is how you feel, but then, having taken part in the activity, you start to feel uneasy, then it is best to admit to God that you have unintentionally done something that offends your conscience, and determine not to do it again--for the sake of your own conscience.
2. Will the conscience of my Christian brothers and sisters be offended if they see me take part in this activity? It may be perfectly all right for me in and of myself (principle 1 above), but that alone is not sufficient reason for me to feel free to do the activity. If I have reason to think that
(a) others will feel that I am falling into sin by doing this thing, and that they will have a hard time trusting me and having unhindered Christian fellowship with me as a result, or
(b) they might not have the confidence of principle 1 above, and, when they see me doing the activity, it might tempt them to offend their own conscience (because they may still be tempted to feel that other deities are real, and so be tempted to honor them, splitting their loyalties),
then I should not do the activity, or, at least, I should never do it in front of them, in order to avoid "causing them to stumble."
I'm not sure if this is the kind of answer you were looking for, so feel free to ask a follow-up question.