Worship: A Call for Tolerance on Easter

Christians should remember Christ’s resurrection, just as we remember his death. The two go together. The New Testament does not require Christians to commemorate the resurrection in any particular manner or on any particular day. Yet millions of Christians throughout the centuries have found it helpful to do so, and the Bible does not forbid them to do so.

Some churches stigmatize their members against celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Often, this is based on accusations made without investigating to see whether they are true. Rhetoric about pagan customs in northern Europe, for example, is irrelevant, because Christians were celebrating Jesus’ resurrection long before northern European customs were involved.

It is not a sin to celebrate the resurrection, and not a sin to use to the word Easter, no matter what its origin. It is not a sin to gather at sunrise to worship our Savior. Easter is the spring celebration of Christians honoring the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not an occasion to honor Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess.

I do not think we can be “neutral” about celebrating such a key event in our Savior’s life, such a key event in our own salvation. Christians are not neutral about the victory over sin and death that Jesus won. So I encourage Christians to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some may choose to do it one day, some on another, some perhaps on several days each year. Wonderful! Let good news be celebrated!

It is not a sin to eat chocolate eggs and chocolate rabbits, or to eat eggs that have been colored and dyed. These things are no more pagan today than the names of the days of the week and month are. The same logic that one might be offended by the word “Easter” would suggest that the same person should be offended by “Sunday,” “Thursday,” or “Saturday.” Whatever pagan associations these names may have once had are now gone. No one suspects that egg-dyers or egg-hunters are worshiping other gods.

I encourage people to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, but I am not exhorting people to immerse themselves in customs that have little or nothing to do with the resurrection. But neither do we superstitiously have to avoid Easter eggs and other customs. Some Christians choose to avoid such things; others see no harm in participating in them. Different people will “draw the line” in different places, and here I ask that we live in peace with one another. Differences do exist, and emotions can run high on this issue. So seek peace and pursue it. Those who participate in all the Easter customs need not flaunt it; those who refuse do not need to make a big deal about it.

Each of us must answer to the Lord, for it is to the Lord that we live and die — and we are not called to judge the Lord’s other servants. We are each called to do the work God has called us to do, and we are to do it whether or not the other person is doing what he or she is supposed to be doing. We need tolerance, not mutual criticism. We need grace, not more legislation. Let’s celebrate and worship together!

Author: Joseph Tkach


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