In the life of today’s Christian believer, there will be many events in which the Christian Way will be at odds with the world’s way. It is an inescapable fact that this world is not designed for the Christian. God-fearing people are not the only inhabitants. Christian people are sojourners in a world influenced by Satan and populated with his blind followers, yet charged with the Great Commission to live in it and be a guiding light to bring the repentant sinner to Christ.
Throughout the life of the Christian witness, many different types of people will be encountered. Each one has their own understanding of what they think the Bible says and the myriad of concepts generated by individual mindsets add dimension, presenting the one trying to witness with an overwhelming diversity of opinions, depth of conviction and readiness to learn. As Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” When explaining what you believe and why, different people need different types of presentation. Try to adapt what you say and how you say it to be palatable to the listener. Even if they don’t appear to accept what you are saying, at least expound it in a fashion that will cause them to listen.
Many, probably most, will reject what you tell them. Do not be discouraged by this. Remember, after a three and one half year ministry of healing and miracles, Jesus, the Son of God, only garnered twelve, and one of them turned on Him. The most difficult subject you will meet is the devout churchgoer who has a “thorough understanding” of the Scriptures and can’t be taught a thing. Try to realize this, not only of the other person but also of yourself, no one knows it all. In most cases, the doctrine under discussion will be about the law, but further discussion may reveal that Christian principles are taught at the other church. This is a positive thing. Paul explained that even if the reason was flawed, if the truth is preached, it is cause to rejoice (Philippians 1:18). There are Godly people in every church and what they believe they believe devoutly with the best of intentions. Every church has at least a few dedicated believers who acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son, the Savior of mankind, and they teach love for their fellow man. The best attitude for this dialogue is not for either one to endeavor to “convert” the other but to objectively work together to uncover the truth of the matter. If an agreeable understanding can be reached, well and good, but if not then each should respect the other’s opinion. Sometimes you need to agree to disagree and just go on your way. Don’t consider their disbelief a condemnation or an indication that they are “bound for hell.” Remember, this judgment is the prerogative of Christ so leave it up to Him. You’re dealing with a person subject to Satan’s blinding and God may not have decided to draw them yet, but He will in His own good time.
One of the early challenges to a Christian’s adherence to observance of their beliefs is attending a school or college that may require classes on the Sabbath. Every effort should be made to arrange your schedule to avoid having to attend class on the Sabbath but sometimes this is not achievable. If every attempt has been made to avoid classes on the Sabbath and you still have to do so, forgiveness is possible. The Levitical priests slaughtered, skinned, and prepared animal sacrifices on the Sabbath, an arduous and strenuous task, but they were held blameless for all this work on the Sabbath. If, after your best effort, you can’t avoid classes on God’s Sabbath, ask Him to forgive you and He will.
A matter of an entirely different nature is Friday night recreational activities. Most of these functions are not required to meet the requirements of your educational process and are voluntary, therefore a choice is freely made. Youthful immaturity may not discern the significance of the nature of the choice, and to force or coerce them into compliance may discourage their participation in church later on. Let those approaching the age of independence make their own decision regarding Sabbath observance but make it clear what the righteous decision should be (Matthew 10:37). That verse could be paraphrased, “He that loveth the ballgame more than me is not worthy of me.”
A certain basketball team in a homeschool basketball league allowed one team to wear ink tattoos on their bodies. The tattoos were temporary, but home schooling is usually a Christian endeavor and some of the people there were disturbed by what they considered a non-Christian display of decorative behavior. When the coach was confronted about this obvious disparity with Scripture (Leviticus 19:28). that had been observed by the general public his reply was “There’s worse things.” Does the existence of something worse make an act acceptable? Murder is worse than pursesnatching. Does this make stealing a woman’s purse legal and acceptable to society? Forget relative morality. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
Times have changed. A few decades ago ladies were not allowed to wear sleeveless dresses to some work places. The use of foul language in public would land you in jail. Since the banishment of the Bible from public schools in 1963, society has become more tolerant of conduct that earlier generations regarded as profane and obscene. Christ still regards such things as wrong and that is the standard by which He will judge. Don’t engage in any activity if it is forbidden by God. If a son or daughter, still at home and under the authority of Christian parents, wants to engage in wrongful pursuits such as wearing provocative clothing or partying in questionable company, forget concern over their abandoning the church, they already have. Put your foot down and forbid it. The parents will be held accountable for what they allow and when the intended deed is sinful, the parent will be called on God’s carpet to explain (Proverbs 22:6).
Obedience to the clean food law is more difficult in private situations than in public. When eating out, one can be careful of what they choose, ask about an item when in doubt without causing offense and learn to avoid those places which flavor all or most of their fare with pork. Private dinners with friends and family offer more of a challenge. Don’t tell Uncle Roscoe “I don’t eat that pork garbage!” or he might leave you out of his will. Be tactful, clever as the serpent and harmless as the dove, and explain before the meal is planned that you adhere to God’s food law. Before the meal is planned means at the first chance, if possible before any invitation is given. Look for the opportunity to inform potential dinner partners that you abstain from pork, shellfish, and any other kind of unclean item that may be served. Early revelation of your eating practice will prevent future moments of awkward interaction and in case they forget and plop a pork chop onto your plate, correction will also be easier by reminding them of what you told them. Don’t lie about why you don’t eat certain foods, either. Most people are under the impression that these laws have been annulled and do not understand your viewpoint about eating pork. Be candid with them and explain truthfully and explicitly about what you eat or don’t eat and why. Make it clear that obedience to God is the foundation of your faith. Illustrate some of the reasons why you don’t eat unclean food, for instance trichinosis and the diet of bottom scavengers, pointing out that these are possibly some of God’s reasons why they should not be eaten. Without sounding “churchy” about it, you can then honestly tell them that you believe those reasons still exist and the thought of eating such things just does not appeal to you. If they still press you, and some kinfolk will, ask them to explain Matthew 5:18 and 24:35.
Many Sabbatarians have lost their job because of their refusal to work on the Sabbath and annual Holy Days. In most cases it was because their change from Sunday to Sabbath came after their current employment began and the company would not acknowledge the validity of their belief. In these cases there was no room for compromise. It was either God’s Way or man’s way and those who chose God’s Way had to find another job. When interviewing for a job, the Sabbatarian should be sure to inform the interviewer of their religious persuasion. After becoming successfully employed or if there is a change of immediate supervisors, it is a good idea to review your previous Sabbath adjustments with your new boss. Most of the time adjustments can be made to accommodate both parties. Sabbatarians make excellent Sunday, Christmas and Easter workers, and relieved of the chore of drafting someone to pull this duty, the company should not object to the annual Holy Day observance by the Sabbatarian.
If the Sabbatarian starts a business of their own, there are several criteria to be determined. Will the type of work require working weekends? What will you do if a client demands that you perform work on the Sabbath? You may as well plan on it, you will be faced with the choice between God and the world and the best way to handle it is to let everyone, customers or new hires, know right up front that you keep the Sabbath. Also consider the people who may work for you. Do they keep Sunday? You should not make your employees work on the Sabbath but it is only right to respect their belief and make allowance for them if they want to observe Sunday. The same principle is at work here as expressed in Matthew 6:15. If you would want your employer to allow you to go to church on your day of worship even though he thinks you are wrong, you must do the same for your Sunday keeping employees.
Some of the most trying times for the Christian are when the annual Holy Days roll around. This is the time that Satan chooses to throw as many obstacles into the path of God’s child as he can. Flat tires, a stifling cold or a badly skinned knee for one of the kids are all difficulties the devil can toss into your plans to travel to a Holy Day site. These moments in our lives can serve to remind us that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare against the powers and rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The 6th chapter of Ephesians instructs the Christian how to conduct this spiritual warfare. Pray always and array yourself with the armor of God. Put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. Take the shield of faith, secure yourself with truth and present the gospel of peace through the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With these you can combat Satan and defeat his attempts to obstruct your observance of God’s most holy days of the year. With determined resolution and a strong fighting spirit the besieged Christian can overcome Satan’s attacks (Revelation 21:7).
The other side of the coin concerning holy days is having to deal with others at the times of their “holy days.” It is not a requirement for a special day to be ordained by God. Some examples of acceptable holy days not ordained by God but observed by some people are Purim, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, religious days set aside by man to celebrate the giving of thanks or the memorial of an event from the past. Some celebrations, however, have their roots in pagan belief and rituals and the observance of them by the Christian could be offensive to God. The trappings and activities of Christmas, Easter, and Hallowe’en (all hallow evening) are rooted in the uncivilized (by today’s standards) cultures of Ancient Rome, Babylon, and the Celts. How the Holy Day observing Christian can cope with these days will be covered in principle by discussing just one, Christmas.
“Merry Christmas” is a greeting one will hear many times during the Christmas season. There are several ways to handle this. You can announce that you don’t honor this day because of its pagan origins and embark upon a long dissertation of historical rhetoric condemning Christmas, in which case in the future your friend will cross the street when they see you coming and you will probably lose all influence with them. Accept the greeting as “have a good day,” thank them without returning the statement they expect and eventually they will get the idea that there is something in your attitude about Christmas that doesn’t fit theirs and they might question you about it, giving you the opportunity to explain your beliefs. This way, they asked you and can blame no one but themselves for the lecture they receive. Every individual can think of a reply that falls somewhere in the middle of these examples that will accommodate their personality and demeanor.
“How was your Christmas?” is another greeting you will encounter. “The same as any other day, how was yours” is a reply that may start a dialogue in which you can explain your position. Make your Christian belief known and be sure to let them know you believe in the Virgin Birth. This is an excellent time to elaborate about the Feast of Tabernacles, pointing out the eight days from His birth to His circumcision. Call to their attention that, what He told us to remember was His death, not His birth. This should explain why you don’t celebrate Christmas. Do not provoke or offend with your explanation (1 Corinthians 10:32-33). Putting people on the defensive renders them difficult, if not impossible, to deal with. Politely ask them for a statement of their faith and the Scripture that supports it. It has occurred in the past that while attempting to prove their non-Biblical position a person has stumbled across a truth that changed their way of thinking.
Here is one example of diplomacy exercised by one who did not observe Christmas, although not necessarily recommended: The teacher offered one dollar to the student who could name the most famous and important person in the world. Several students suggested Washington, Mohammed, and Lincoln, all wrong answers. Finally, a Jewish boy stood up and gave the correct answer. “Jesus,” he stated. “How did you, a boy of the Jewish Faith, know that?” the teacher asked. “Well,” explained the boy as he took the money, “my heart said Moses but business is business!”
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Matthew 5:18 not one word of the law shall change until all is fulfilled.
Matthew 6:15 if you don’t forgive, your Father will not forgive.
Matthew 12:5 the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s words shall not.
1 Corinthians 8:9 take heed lest this liberty of yours become an obstruction.
Ephesians 6:11-13 be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Titus 2:12 we should live righteously in this world.
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