“He is risen.” This often repeated phrase is the Christian community’s traditional greeting on what people call “Easter.” Stanton typically distances itself from any holiday observances, even secular ones like Mother’s Day. In doing this, they take a page out of the doctrines of other sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I unfortunately carried these feelings long into adulthood, thinking (because it was what I had been told) that people who celebrate Easter just care about the Easter bunny. But it’s simply not true. Yes, there are some secularized people who are “Christians” in name only, and there will always be those. But that is not the end of the story.
So is it really against scripture to observe this or any other holiday in our American or Christian culture? Not hardly. Not when you properly understand this teaching from Paul. Let’s start at the beginning of Romans 14:
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 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. 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.” Romans 14:1-4
Then we get to the passage in question:
“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. 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.” Romans 14:5-6 (NIV)
There are all kinds of bad arguments used to divert attention from Paul’s clear teaching on this. “Paul was only referring to Jewish holidays.” Or “The stronger brother would not celebrate the holiday.”
Nonsense. Paul’s examples include eating meat offered to idols, celebrating holidays for the Lord, and refraining from celebrating holidays for the Lord. His only verdict on any of these things is “it doesn’t matter…do what leads to peace.”
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:19
But there are no buts in Paul’s teachings on this. I should not be teaching you to observe Easter or any other holiday. Nor should I be teaching you that you can’t. I should not be teaching you that you should eat meat offered to idols. But neither should I be teaching that you can’t.
“Come on people,” Paul is saying. “Accept one another on the same basis that Christ accepted you.”
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
No one was accepted by Christ because of our perfect understanding of scripture, or holidays, or any other subject beside the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness we obtain at the cross. That is the Gospel; the Good News. That’s the basis on which the first converts came to Christ on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and therefor that’s the basis of our relationship with Christ. It’s upon that same basis that Paul instructs us to accept our brother. This used to be the call of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Oh, how far away from those principles we’ve come.