146. Principles on Treating Festivals and Customs
1. Traditional customs are all tricks of Satan for toying with people. They have not been established by God, and He hates the human festivals and customs.
2. People who believe in God should not pay mind to or follow the customs of corrupt humanity. They should advocate for positive things, and allow the truth to flourish.
3. Appropriate celebration on festivals is permitted, but it cannot interfere with carrying out your duty. Only doing things that God is pleased with is true happiness.
4. When performing your duty in different places with different customs, you must learn to go with the flow and adapt to the environment, but you cannot let your heart be taken over by it.
Relevant Words of God:
The superstitious activities that people engage in are what God hates the most, but many people are still unable to let go of them, thinking these superstitious activities to be decreed by God, and even today have yet to shed them completely. Such things as the arrangements young people make for wedding feasts and bridal trousseaus; gifts of cash, banquets, and similar ways with which joyous occasions are celebrated; ancient formulae that have been handed down; all the meaningless superstitious activities conducted in behalf of the dead and their obsequies: these are even more detestable to God. Even Sunday (the Sabbath, as observed by Jews) is detestable to Him; and the social relationships and worldly interactions between man and man are all the more despised and rejected by God. Even the Spring Festival and Christmas Day, which are known to everyone, are not decreed by God, let alone the toys and decorations (couplets, New Year cake, firecrackers, lanterns, Christmas gifts, Christmas parties, and Holy Communion) for these festive holidays—are they not idols in the minds of men? The breaking of bread on the Sabbath, wine, and fine linen are even more emphatically idols. All the traditional festival days popular in China, such as the Dragon Heads-raising Day, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Laba Festival, and New Year’s Day, and the festivals in the religious world, such as Easter, Baptism Day, and Christmas Day, all of these unjustifiable festivals have been arranged and handed down from olden times to today by many people, and are thoroughly incompatible with the human race that God created. It is humanity’s rich imagination and ingenious conception that have allowed them to be passed down to today. They appear to be free of flaws, but are in fact tricks Satan plays on humanity. The more a place is thronged with Satans, and the more obsolete and backward that place is, the more deeply entrenched are its feudal customs. These things bind people tight, allowing absolutely no room for movement. Many of the festivals in the religious world seem to display great originality and to create a bridge to the work of God, but they are actually the invisible ties with which Satan binds people from coming to know God—they are all Satan’s cunning stratagems. In fact, when a stage of God’s work is finished, He has already destroyed the tools and the style of that time, without leaving any trace. However, “devout believers” continue to worship those tangible material objects; meanwhile they consign what God has to the back of their minds, studying it no further, seeming to be full of the love of God when they actually pushed Him out of the house long ago and placed Satan on the table to worship. Portraits of Jesus, the Cross, Mary, Jesus’ Baptism and the Last Supper—people venerate these as the Lord of Heaven, all the while repeatedly crying out “God the Father.” Isn’t this all a joke? To this day, many similar sayings and practices that have been passed down amongst humanity are hateful to God; they seriously obstruct the way ahead for God and, furthermore, create huge setbacks to humanity’s entry. …
The best way to change human disposition is to reverse those portions of people’s innermost hearts that have been profoundly poisoned, allowing people to begin changing their thinking and morality. First of all, people need to see clearly that all these religious rites, religious activities, years and months, and festivals are hateful to God. They should break free from these bonds of feudal thinking and eradicate every trace of their deep-seated propensity to superstition. These are all included in humanity’s entry. You must understand why God leads humanity out of the secular world, and again why He leads humanity away from rules and regulations. This is the gate through which you will enter, and although it has nothing to do with your spiritual experience, these are the greatest obstacles blocking your entry, blocking your knowing God. They form a net which enmeshes people.
from “Work and Entry (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In your lives I see much that you do that is irrelevant to the truth, and so I am expressly asking you to become servants of the truth and not be enslaved by wickedness and ugliness. Do not trample on the truth or defile any corner of the house of God.
from “Work and Entry (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The Man’s Fellowship:
You should have clarity on what things are unrelated to the truth. I think they mostly refer to things that are unrelated to your duty, unrelated to entering into life, and unrelated to practicing the truth. In a word, they are the meaningless, worthless things that are unrelated to people’s belief in God and pursuit of life, the performance of their duty, and practicing the truth. These are the trivial matters that entangle mankind and delay their entry into life that God hates, and they are the encumbrances that all people should give up and cast off. If people engage in these things too much, it can impact their progress in life and disrupt the performance of their duty. If people do not cast off these things that are unrelated to the truth, it can ruin their lives and delay their path forward. These things that are unrelated to the truth are the secular entanglements, personal preferences, delights of the flesh, customs, and ancestral heritage that damage people’s lives, getting married and having children too early, people’s worldly philosophies and religious rules as well as eating, drinking, and being merry, and various other things that people pay too much attention to. Although there are some things that are reasonable, there’s no need to pay too much attention to them. This is because they are all things that have nothing to do with the truth, and they are harmful to people’s pursuit of life. Even though these things unrelated to the truth are not sins, they are enormously dangerous to people’s entry into life. Being caught up in these things is like a slow suicide. It is bringing ruin down upon yourself, and it is a foolish person being caught up in their own net. A person who focuses on life and the truth should be able to discern. It is an intelligent person who is able to give up things that are meaningless, that delay or impact their progress in life, and who does more of the things that are beneficial for life, which are carrying out their duty and practicing the truth. The best approach is to endure a little temporary discomfort as long as it is beneficial for your growth in life, and then you can be completed by God.
from The Fellowship From the Above
There are some preferences those who belong to Satan have that are reveling in sin; they are completely devoid of meaning, and they are boring, lowly things. Do you like those kinds of things? Have you given them up, or do you still live within them? For example, the secular holiday of Valentine’s Day, or Halloween—what kinds of holidays are those? Do you still celebrate them? These nonbelievers’ holidays are not at all in line with the truth, and they can only make people more and more corrupt. If someone can’t let go of them, that just shows that they do not have God in their heart. How do you handle these things? Have you let go of them, or not? Those who have a distaste for these things in their hearts are able to give them up; they can refrain from following the trends of the world and only pursue a life of proper humanity. All those things that Satan prefers are things we do not like, which we distance ourselves from. When we see those things, we are queasy, nauseated, and disgusted; they are meaningless. But all nonbelievers, especially the ostentatious ones all like those things—they all live within them and feel they are very enjoyable, fashionable, lofty, and wonderful. What kind of garbage is within their souls? Such “lofty” people, with such status and education, how could they like those disgusting things? Doesn’t it mean that their spirits are unclean? On certain holidays people of the world send certain kinds of flowers or do certain kinds of things—what use is it? Is it meaningful? It’s not meaningful at all. Are you interested in those things? They annoy you as well, right? Let’s establish a new kind of life. Nonbelievers can have their own lifestyle, and we will have our own lifestyle. Because we understand many truths and we can do meaningful things, things that are in line with God’s will, our lives of humanity are enriched. There are many people who are uninterested in nonbelievers’ lives, but they don’t have a new life, either, so they feel that their lives are very boring. It is best if they understand some truths, and then they’ll know what the meaningful things for them to do are and what significant things they should choose to do. Which of those can bring people happiness—do you know? When we do things that allow people to experience variety in their lives, to live fully, joyfully, and happily, such as fellowshiping on the truth, singing praises to God, carrying out meaningful activities, and having appropriate pastimes, then we are able to live very happily, even better than nonbelievers. As long as we can seek God’s will in all things that relate to the truth and can achieve obedience to God, then this is the likeness of one who can be saved. Having the likeness of one who can be saved is also possessing a proper human life, a life of obeying and worshiping God. Then people will be able to have true happiness and enjoyment deep in their souls. We gain happiness and enjoyment by understanding the truth and putting it into practice, and we rely on living in front of God for true enjoyment in our spirits. This enjoyment is much greater and much more fulfilling than that of living in sin. The joy of living in sin is superficial, and it is spiritually empty and painful. Enjoying God’s words, living within them, being able to practice the truth and satisfy God are enjoyments that are deep within the spirit, and they provide comfort. That is why the more someone is able to practice the truth and live in front of God, the more someone has the likeness of a human, the more regenerated they are in their spiritual appearance, the more light they have in their face, and the more of a human likeness they come to have. How can the likeness of a human be lived out? It is lived out by relying on God’s words, and by living in front of God. If you understand the truth, you will have deep fulfillment and comfort in your heart, and you will be able to feel that God is with you. You will have true joy and peace in your heart. If you have joy and peace deep in your heart, then your face will show a genuine image, and your disposition in life will also begin to undergo a transformation. At that time, other people will think that you look very normal, that you have the likeness of a human. They will think that your spiritual appearance is wonderful and that you look vibrant and your expressions are dignified and decent, and the more people see it the more they will think you are sanctified.
from “The Four Standards for Salvation and the Real Situation of a Saved Person” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (III)
As for how believers should handle the issue of festivals and holidays, we should not focus on observing these holidays, but having fun when the opportunity presents itself is fine. Whatever chance you have to have fun is a good thing. Festivals are something that aren’t present in our hearts, but experiencing some happiness is great. So every time festivals come around, if you need to fulfill your duty then fulfill your duty. If you want to eat and drink a bit and have a good time, there is nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t delay what you should be doing. If you become extravagant and wasteful because you want to celebrate the holiday, if you eat and drink to excess and spend too much money, that is not appropriate. Money should be spent in the right places; only using it for something meaningful is right. Whether you have money or not, having joy is a good thing, and having some fun on festivals is entirely appropriate. The day will come when we will have our own holiday—the day the great red dragon meets its demise, the day God openly appears. That celebration will finally be the observance of a true holiday!
This can be stated succinctly as follows: Having some fun on holidays is fine, but it should not hold up the performance of your duty, because everyone has a different situation. For most people who are at home, having some fun on holidays and festivals is a good thing, but for those who are out performing their duty who are busy in their work, they should not allow that to be delayed by thinking about the holiday. Different people have different situations, and they should approach this matter properly.
from The Fellowship From the Above
In the phrase, “must learn more of the wisdom and ethics of man,” “ethics” mainly refers to some interpersonal understanding, some human customs and different beliefs. A man needs to know how to handle these things and needs to have some wisdom. These are things that people must possess. If you don’t have those things, then you cannot do work that is directed at people. For example, if you go to work among ethnic minorities, they have some customs that are different from yours. If you judge them with your own notions and say: “They are corrupt! They are backward! They all need to be eradicated!”, as soon as you try to change things like that, you can’t carry out your work—you will certainly meet with defeat. That’s why you need to be tolerant and patient, and not judge. You must respect others. This is included within ethics. You need to be able to be easygoing with their customs. If you feel embarrassed, if you feel that some of their customs are backward, it’s unacceptable if you don’t learn to go along with them. You must do that. For example, if they like to dance and you go to that place but don’t dance, how can you do that work for them? You must go along with it. You must dance with them, learn from them, and however they express themselves, you must also learn that. Don’t judge first. There is no use in judgment. First go along with it, and then gradually bring them into the truth. If you just barge in there and brashly criticize them, and when you’re done with that you denounce them, and then judge and chastise them, it’s all over. No work can be done at that point. Isn’t that true? If you don’t understand ethics, and you don’t have wisdom, do you think you can do this work? For this, you must learn more about worldly principles and conventions as well as human wisdom—more human wisdom, and ethics. A little bit of wisdom isn’t adequate. You need more wisdom, and more aspects of wisdom in order to be able to do work among people. This is quite difficult.
from “Questions & Answers” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (III)