It’s not uncommon for Christians to be concerned about intermingling ancient, secular, even anti-God traditions, practices and rituals with what we consider holy days or Christian holidays. For example Halloween has been ousted for Fall Harvest; Easter has been bumped for Resurrection Sunday; etc, due to the unsavory origins of such celebrations.
I wouldn’t question the accuracy of some of the origins of today’s holidays, but I would suggest that the origins of things don’t necessarily make them dangerous. In fact, in some cases the reverse is true. Anything can turn sour or be emptied of its goodness, but so can God restore and breathe new life into dead things.
I heard a discussion using 1 Cor 5 as a proof text for which festivals (holidays) the New Testament did or did not support. Particularly Easter.
But the context of this passage is not festivals or traditions, and so it isn’t good Bible interpretation to presume the writer is making a point about good or bad traditions and holidays. That doesn’t mean that somewhere in the NT there isn’t commentary on how we should embrace or reject old or wicked traditions…it’s just not there, in 1 Cor 5.
Interestingly, what this passage IS talking about, using Leaven as a metaphor, is sin.
Jesus is saying (in my best attempt at informed scholarship), is that as his Church goes forth, it is imperative that we don’t “wink at sin.”
Sin is what separates man from God, it is what Jesus died to make amends for, and by not dealing directly and urgently with sin, the restorative purposes of God in Jesus will be lost by the church…our festivals, celebrations, etc will be a joke if we forget the work of Jesus as it relates so centrally to our sin. The text is saying that sinfulness should not be tolerated. If repentance is absent in the man, make the man absent to bring about repentance.
Additionally, it is our view that Jesus taught (not exclusively, but certainly) that the line of sin separating good and evil doesn’t simply run between this man and that one, this thing or that thing, this practice or that one but shockingly runs down the center of each man’s heart. Mine most certainly included.
The world and maybe more specifically the religious want to draw the line of good/bad in such a way that “I” am on the good side, and “that thing I don’t like or conclude to be wrong” is on the bad side. Jesus really took issue with those lines. Jesus didn’t say, most predominantly, that bad things were wrong (although He did say that), but he instead shockingly said that many “good” things were corrupt. Jesus spent much time and energy critiquing what the religious supposed were good things.
For example, he criticized their public prayers as wordy attempts at garnering praise rather than as a solemn, private, humble conversation with God.
Now, to my previous point, Jesus didn’t actually call prayer bad…he called the presumedly “good” men inwardly snake-like. Wow. He essentially said, stop drawing the lines of sin “out there” to your convenience, but realize that the problem with sin is an INWARD one.
So, the way we try to apply all this (which I have superficially expressed only moderately well at best) is to focus on the HEART, not the externals, the traditions, but to keep Jesus the focus (center) of whatever we do. The ever-expanding Vista Christmas program could easily become a point of pride or a entertaining distraction; our Sunday services could become a political platform; our Kids ministry could become a daycare. Forgetting our Savior, Jesus, through it all.
We intend to worship in spirit and truth. Knowing that the world is depraved and corrupt through and through (whatever the tradition), we take the view that God is restoring us and all that is in the world.
Jesus made demon-possessed people free, diseased women well, and wicked people saints. The electric guitar on stage that used to play along with evil-laden lyrics now praises God at the hands of a “new” man (on the Vista platform), an illegitimate child becomes a Christian parent, a plastic colored egg with questionable ancient origins now sits on a little girls shelf as a moving and memorable reminder from Sunday School that the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive and loves her.
To the point. We believe that if Jesus can redeem a lost man, a bitter woman, a wayward son, a spiritually dead church, a guitar, a pastor who wears jeans and no tie…a colored egg is no problem for God. Because it’s not about the guitar, the clothes, the egg or the seven-day festival in 1 Cor 5. It about the heart, 365 days a year, 24/7.