From the Pulpit: Pleasing God is all that really matters

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I am amused but not surprised at the response to churches that choose not to have services on Christmas day this year. It seems the Pharisees and legalists have come out of the wood work. I must say at the beginning that we, at Fellowship of Faith in Columbiana, have decided we will not have services in our building Christmas morning.

To the Pharisees and legalists, that makes us pagans who have compromised with the world. According to some, our members should leave FFCC and go to a real church. It would be silly if it weren&8217;t so sad.

After 25-plus years of ministry, I have come to realize that the people who make these kinds of statements are the same self-righteous folks who measure their spirituality by how many times they go to church, how much money they give and how big a Bible they carry.

They are the same people who are far more concerned with tradition and appearance than Biblical truth and substance. They fall into the same category as the Pharisees who criticized Jesus for going to the homes of taxpayers and prostitutes and criticized him for not making his disciples wash their hands before they ate.

The fact is, God made it clear that he is not interested in our traditions, festivals and celebrations. He is interested in obedience – obedience in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the jails, caring for the sick, widows and orphans.

Matthew 25 tells us that on the day of judgment, Jesus will recognize those who are his and separate the sheep from the goats based on whether they cared for and ministered to people in his name. The fact is, most of these critics are quick to condemn those who won&8217;t attend church on a given Sunday, but they haven&8217;t been to a hospital, nursing home, jail or told a person how to be saved in years.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having church at your church building on Christmas morning if you choose. That is fantastic. Neither is there anything wrong with other churches choosing not to have services in their buildings.

It will upset the Pharisees and the legalistic crowd, but I can assure you, God is looking at our hearts and obedience, not tradition and religious festivals.

So, for those who want to judge my spirituality based on whether we have church on Christmas morning, enjoy yourself. I&8217;ve never really concerned myself with legalism or Pharisees. Quite frankly, I&8217;m only concerned about what God thinks about our obedience the other 364 days of the year.

So to all who read this, I hope you have a Merry Christmas wherever you choose to celebrate. I intend to celebrate it in my home, my parents&8217; home (even though my mom went to be with the Lord this year) and my in-laws home, and I know God is pleased and that is all that matters to me.

Allen Dennis serves as missions pastor at Fellowship of Faith Community Church in Columbiana