Victor writes this letter to the believers:
I want you to know that while some make Christmas an issue, it being the season, we need to have it from the Lord to know what to say, to whom and what, but let’s not get in bondage about it. When it comes right down to it, Christmas is not the issue. Before I became a Christian, celebrating or not celebrating Christmas would have meant nothing to me. But when I received the Spirit, things began to change in all areas, one thing at a time, sometimes several things, and Christmas took its turn.
You see, it’s primarily about a relationship with the Lord Jesus, He living His life in and through us. And He doesn’t condemn or criticize anyone for darkness or ignorance (did He condemn you?). Having revealed Himself to us, He lives His life by us and brings whom He will to the Light in His time. Patience!
I talked to some of you as to what to respond to others when they wish you a “Merry Christmas.” Our community fire chief has created the tradition (perhaps it is not a new idea by any means) of heading door to door with his wife in the fire truck. (I think that is rather clever – no sleigh, but a fire truck, and red like a Santa sleigh, well, maybe yellow, not sure; and instead of Rudolph’s red nose, headlights, and instead of bells, a siren). They dress in Santa suits and hand out candy canes, one for each member of the house. Last night I heard the touch of the siren, and Wendy Hilliard came to the door and handed me three canes (which, Christmas or no Christmas, we don’t normally eat). I accepted them. She said, “Happy holidays to you and yours,” smiled, and was off to the next house. I smiled back, rather hesitantly, I might add, and said, “Thank you.”
Wendy is our neighbor; her husband is a volunteer fireman for us, doing the community a service, and they are regular strawberry customers of Harvest Haven. With these kinds of connections, it makes it harder to take a stand on some issues…if indeed a stand ought to be taken. Sometimes, hopefully not for selfish or earthly benefit, we need to recognize that we can just let some things go. We needn’t strive or differ at all times, in all cases.
Was I wrong to thank her and accept the canes? Maybe and maybe not; the Lord will tell. I’d be glad to talk to her and her husband about any of these things should the Lord open the door to do so, not in legalistic posturing and mild contempt, but in kindness and friendship. And if the Lord doesn’t provide the circumstances, not a problem. Leave it; it’s okay.
Terri, I advised you to go to your family gathering and not worry about it. How did you do? Or is it today?
James, I advised you to go to yours and take it as an opportunity to just be there and share; maybe ask some questions, not in strife or antagonism, but just to make people think about themselves, their lot in life, you, and what they are doing there having a gathering when not willing to talk about the things that are significant to you, whom they insist to get together with and presume to care about.
Eric, I heard that Laurie was upset because she had to prepare the kids herself to go to church for whatever occasion they were having there, likely to do with Christmas. I only got these things secondhand, so don’t quote me. Be that as it may, consider that you can help her dress and feed the kids; help send her off to church with them to do what she intends. When they all know that you clearly disagree, and though you do not go yourself and partake, yet if you help them with concern and kindness, I think that will speak volumes more than to hold them in any kind of contempt – mild, subtle, or otherwise. Yes, the Lord has called us to war, yet by peaceful and heavenly means, not by carnal attitudes and measures.
Care about them more than you care about not celebrating Christmas or about not going to Babylonian worship. Do you understand, people? Do you hear me? Yes, Paul and I preach against Christmas and false religion, we speak against many evils and “reprove the works of darkness” (as did the Lord and the prophets and apostles), but there are many ways to do so, and times and persons in different stations of life in the mix, each calling for a different stroke. Love them wherever and whenever possible.
By “love”, I don’t mean the mush or sentimentality or platitudes, though there are times for sympathy and compassion, for hugs, and an understanding pat on the hand or shoulder, by all means. But don’t presume to change them. That is the Lord’s job; only He can do it, and if He isn’t doing anything at the time, your efforts will only be counterproductive and vexing to them, to the Lord, and to yourselves. Been there, done it, much and many times – bought the t-shirt, burned it…. Do you “hear” me? I would like for you to understand these things sooner than I did, yet it is still all in His time(s).
I too am weak, as you; Paul is weak; we are all weak. Let’s not fool ourselves; we are no better than anyone when it comes down to it. We fail, we stumble, we err, we must all learn; we must all be chastened by the Lord. He loves us and has been very patient with us, has He not? But He also loves those with whom we have to do.
Remember, He also died for them and is every bit as desirous and able to bring them into His fold as He has been and done with you. Be patient, be kind, be understanding, be gentle with them all. Do stand firm in your convictions, make clear what the Lord has shown you – I’m not calling for compromise – I’m calling for something much better, for the sake of all.
You may have some difficulty understanding how it is I can say these things when you see our preaching; it seems we are the opposite. Are we? Maybe we are; I hope not. I want you to know that in Christ, we care for all those people out there, every last one of them…Augie, Peter, Laurie, Dilene, all the children, pastors, priests, strangers, antagonists, name them all – Christ died for them all, and one day, they will all be standing beside us, rejoicing, singing praises to God, with tears and happy faces, thankful that He cared so much that He should suffer a cruel death for them, and thankful for all things.
I have an only son in the flesh, whom I love. He does things I don’t agree with in the final sense. But I believe the Lord has given me the wisdom to let him go and experience the things he must for the time. He does not keep the Sabbath as do we, he does a variety of things we know better than to do, yet I know the Lord was sovereign in my life when I was in unbelief, and He didn’t draw me to Himself until I was 27, 9 years older than Jonathan is now. God could have done it sooner, but He didn’t. I can wish He had, given the terrible things that happened, but so it was, for His purposes and for the right time, which serves to humble me to this very hour. So who am I to think I can (or should) change people any time I please? I can’t, and neither can anyone else. He has His timing and way.
Let’s give thanks in all these things -that’s very important – rejoice in the Lord and give Him thanks for everything, the “good” and the “bad” both – the trials, the challenges, the roadblocks, the defeats, as well as the victories. Father, thank You for these to whom You have granted grace and revealed Yourself. Thank You for their weaknesses and strengths, all of which serve Your purpose. Thank You for them and everything. Amen!
– Victor Hafichuk (December 25, 2009)