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Suggestions for handling relatives at Christmas time

Most of the world loves Christmas, but guess what will happen if you try to tell your relatives that you aren't doing Christmas anymore because is not a biblical holy day!

As you've probably already figured out, it is a true dilemma to find yourself Torah observant in a world that has no clue what Torah is - especially in view of Christianity's insistence that Torah is a curse God's Holy Days were meant only for "the Jews" ...

So, here are some suggestions to help you make it through the Christmas holidays:

First and foremost: Do NOT go around pounding your chest and shouting, "Christmas is pagan!" All that will serve to do is to turn everyone off toward anything you try to do and say beyond that. While, it's true that the man-made "holy days" of Christmas and Easter are steeped in paganism, there's no need to give anyone a "biblical concussion" about it. Save it for "the right" time - for some proper time after you've explained that you don't participate in Christmas anymore because you've chosen to start keeping God's commanded Holy Days.

This revelation will kick-start a discussion that will probably be countered with, "So, you've put yourself back under the law?" To which you will reply, "No, I've chosen to take God at His Word and start obeying, to the best of my ability, what He commanded." To which someone will surely respond: "I knew it! You've put yourself back under the law!" And your response should be: "No, it has simply dawned on me that, since we are ONE in Christ, we all have the same rules. Numbers 15:13-16 tells us four times in a row that there is no difference between His natural and adopted children, and I'm simply choosing to please Him and to seek an ever-closer relationship with Him."

While responding to your Christian friends and relatives, always keep in mind that Christianity condones and promotes man-made traditions, and most Christians simply do not know how lukewarm their "grace-only" faith really is. And realistically, you can't expect anyone to hear what you are saying without some "deer-in-the-headlights" looks and gang-buster resistance on their part. All you can really do as a Torah observant believer is to stand your ground, and - being gentle yet firm - resolve to be a living example for anyone you might encounter. If someone asks for biblical proof of your allegations, simply refer them to passages such as the following:

Jeremiah 10: 1 Hear the word Adonai speaks to you, house of Isra'el! 2 Here is what Adonai says: "Don't learn the way of the Goyim, don't be frightened by astrological signs, even if the Goyim are afraid of them; 3 for the customs of the peoples are nothing. They cut down a tree in the forest; a craftsman works it with his axe; 4 they deck it with silver and gold. They fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won't move. 5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak. It has to be carried, because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of it - it can do nothing bad; likewise, it is unable to do anything good!"

Whatever you do, don't despair, because Yeshua told us these things would happen, and the only thing we can do about it is to keep sowing seeds in hopes that our families/relatives/friends eventually "get it" ....

Matthew 10: 34. Do not think that I have come to bring calm on earth. I have not come to bring calm, rather a sword. 35. For I have come to divide a man from his father, and a girl from her mother. And a daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law. 36. And the adversaries of a man will be his household. 37. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38. And anyone that does not take up his staff and come and follow me is not worthy of me.

Luke 12: 51. Do you think that I have come to place tranquility on earth. I say to you, No, rather division. 52. From now on: For there will be five in a certain house that will be divided three against two, and two against three. 53. For a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter, and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

The mere mention of Torah has divided many families emotionally, spiritually and often physically; and it has even been the reason for some divorces. We know of one family where the husband became Torah observant and the wife fought him every step of the way - especially at Christmas time when she insisted on putting up a Christmas tree and cooking "Christmas ham"; all the while inciting the rest of the family to make fun of her husband for "putting himself back under the law." Needless to say, the couple ended up divorced. Countless others have written to The Refiner's Fire to relate Christmas "horror stories" ranging from Christian parents alienating their children from their Torah observant grandparents, to Torah observant parents forbidding their children to have anything to do with their Christian relatives....

That is NOT the way to do things! We must first try everything in our power to keep the family unit together. If, however, you discover that this is simply not possible, then - as Scripture says - you must make the choice as to whom to follow: God or man.... (Ephesians 4:17-24, etc.)

The following passages could not be any clearer:

Luke 14:25. And while going, large crowds were with him. He turned and said to them, 26. He who comes to me and does not hate his father and his mother and his brothers and his sisters and his wife and his children and even himself, is not able to be a disciple to me. 27. And he who does not take up his stake and comes after me, is not able to be a disciple to me. (AENT)

Luke 14:33. Thus, every one of you who does not leave all his possessions is not able to be a disciple to me. 34. Salt is good, but if even the salt becomes bland, with what will it be seasoned? 35. It is fit for neither the ground nor for the dunghill. They throw it outside. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (AENT)

So what is the solution?

A quick note for those who have written The Refiner's Fire to ask how to respond to people who wish you a "Merry Christmas":

It depends on the situation, but if you're at the mall and a store clerk says, "Merry Christmas", just say, "Thank you!" They were instructed to utter, "Merry Christmas"; and whether or not you celebrate Christmas is totally irrelevant to them. There's no sense in making a big deal over it.

However, if you're at the gym or at your local coffee shop, etc., and someone engages you in a Christmas conversation, don't be afraid to say, "I don't do Christmas." If they ask why, you can use the situation as a wonderful witnessing tool for Torah.

For Torah observant families with young children, we offer the following suggestions:

For the first year or two after you've become Torah observant, accept the Christian grandparents' invitations to come to their house, and even exchange a few presents with them; but don't invite them to your house for the event, because there will be no Christmas festivities nor a tree at your house. Many Messianic believers seem to believe that they can "do" Christmas like everyone else because God never says we CAN'T. But the thing is, Scripture is replete with passages that order us to stay away from paganism - and let's face it: Christmas is steeped in paganism! Again: Whom do we wish to serve?

YHWH recognizes you are doing your best to be Torah observant and He knows that your in-laws/ grandparents/ relatives don't recognize Torah nor even know what it is - and you can use this time as a witnessing tool. But for the sake of your small children, don't confuse them or do anything to make them think Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt Jane and Uncle Humphrey are "bad." For the time being - and so all can get used to the "new you" - simply continue to love your relatives and accept them for who they are. Leave the arguments for some other time.

Concentrate on keeping our own house in order and continue to obey Torah. What your in-laws do at their house is their business and you can't change that. All you can do is continue to sow seeds and continue to love them "where they are"; and as the years pass, they'll either "get it" or they won't.

Remember, Christians have been conditioned to believe Torah is a curse and that Torah was only for "the Jews" - and that all they have to do to gain eternal life is to "believe in Jesus." They simply don't know there is so much more to it....

In the beginning, your children may be rebellious about giving up Christmas. You can offset this at Hanukkah time with the traditional giving of one present every evening during the holy days. (It doesn't have to be anything expensive - Hanukkah isn't Christmas where everybody goes into debt!) This will cause your little ones to look forward to Hanukkah and as you explain what it's all about, they'll come to appreciate its meaning as they grow up with the tradition. In due time, your children will ask about the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah and at that point, you can explain and sow seeds. For now, however, you don't want to confuse your small children by pitting them between your Torah observant lifestyle and the beliefs of their grandparents or other relatives. At first, allow your children to do both Hanukkah at your house and Christmas at Grandma's. DO YOUR BEST TO KEEP THE PEACE!