therefore let no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. these are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. [colossians 2:16-17]
freedom in Christ—to be in the world
while it is true that man-made traditions can become idols and can distract us from God-breathed absolute truth in scripture, we also do not have to fear them, because they are little threat to the infinite power of the blood of Christ.
i grew up in a church denomination that forbade drinking, and most of the people i know in that denomination essentially think of drinking as a sin. now if someone decides not to drink, they probably aren’t missing out on much (and if alcohol is an area of weakness for them, it may serve them well); but if someone decides the blood of Christ is not sufficient to make us holy, that somehow we must also abstain from drinking—something scripture does not command us to do—to complete God’s work, we’re starting to have a problem. who protects us and leads us away from sin—the Holy Spirit within, or some extra-biblical prohibition? what sanctifies us—the blood of Christ, or the works of our hands?
as believers, the law of God is written on our hearts, and we have tremendous freedom, purchased at a high cost. why would we want to return to the bondage we have been set free from?
i’ve been asked several times by believers some form of the question, “will you lie to your kids about santa claus?” i am sympathetic, as a recovering consumerist, to not wanting to raise one’s children to think christmas is all about getting gifts, and i think christian parents can be strategic in how they handle christmas to raise giving, serving children rather than receiving, self-centered ones. that strategy may well be not ever telling your kids about santa! but we do not need to be afraid of santa claus. God is sovereign and the blood of Christ is sufficient—enough to celebrate christmas, with or without any red-nosed reindeer, without fear.
unless we are to return to the law and in so doing forsake the blood of Christ, no such extra-biblical outlawing of festivals, food or drink, or activities on the sabbath are of much aid to the christian life.
Lord, thank you for setting us free from bondage to the law. teach us to be wise in the things we do and the holidays we celebrate, while never forgetting that our only safety and righteousness are found in you. we believe in your sovereignty and in your blood’s sufficiency—help us in our unbelief!
~ stephen hall