149. The Principles of How to Treat Holidays and Social Customs
(1) Traditional social customs are derived from corrupt mankind. They are tricks that Satan plays on man, and were not ordained by God;
(2) Believers in God should not follow or pay much heed to the social customs of corrupt mankind. They should instead promote positive things, and allow the truth to flourish and reveal its splendor;
(3) It is permissible to be appropriately joyful when celebrating a holiday, but one must not let it impede the proper task of performing their duty. To do what pleases God is to be truly joyful;
(4) As you go to various places to perform your duty, adopt the local social customs of each place and adapt to your environment. Do not, however, let those things possess you.
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 for the dead and their obsequies: these are even more detestable to God. Even the day of worship (including the Sabbath, as observed by the religious world) 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 for these festive holidays such as couplets, firecrackers, lanterns, Holy Communion, Christmas gifts, and Christmas festivities—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. 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 and prevents 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 “Lord, heavenly Father.” Is this not 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 the human disposition is to remedy 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 these things have nothing to do with your spiritual experience, they are the greatest obstacles blocking your entry, blocking you from knowing God. They form a net which enmeshes people.
Excerpted from “Work and Entry (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
What things are included in traditional culture? Does it include the holidays people celebrate? For example: the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, the Dragon Boat Festival, as well as the Ghost Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Some families even celebrate the days when seniors achieve a certain age, or when children reach one month or one hundred days of age. And so on. These are all traditional holidays. Is there not traditional culture underlying these holidays? What is the core of traditional culture? Does it have anything to do with worshiping God? Does it have anything to do with telling people to practice the truth? Are there any holidays for people to offer sacrifice to God, go to God’s altar and receive His teachings? Are there holidays like this? (No.) What do people do on all of these holidays? In modern times they are seen as occasions for eating, drinking, and fun. What is the source underlying traditional culture? Who does traditional culture come from? (Satan.) It comes from Satan. Behind the scenes of these traditional holidays, Satan instills certain things in man. What are these things? Ensuring that people remember their ancestors—is that one of them? For example, during Tomb Sweeping Day, people tidy up graves and offer sacrifices to their ancestors, so as not to forget their ancestors. Also, Satan ensures that people remember to be patriotic, of which an example is the Dragon Boat Festival. What about the Mid-Autumn Festival? (Family reunions.) What is the background of family reunions? What is the reason for it? It is to communicate and connect emotionally. Of course, whether it be celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve or the Lantern Festival, there are many ways of describing the reasons behind these celebrations. However one describes those reasons, each one is Satan’s way of instilling its philosophy and its thinking in people, so that they will stray from God and not know there is God, and offer sacrifices either to their ancestors or to Satan, or eat, drink, and have fun for the sake of desires of the flesh. As each of these holidays is celebrated, Satan’s thoughts and views are planted deep within the minds of the people without their knowing. When people reach their forties, fifties or even older ages, these thoughts and viewpoints of Satan are already deeply rooted in their hearts. Moreover, people do their utmost to transmit these ideas, whether right or wrong, down to the next generation, indiscriminately and without reservation. Is not this so? (Yes.) How do traditional culture and these holidays corrupt people? Do you know? (People become constrained and bound by the rules of these traditions, such that they have no time or energy to seek God.) This is one aspect. For example, everyone celebrates during Lunar New Year—if you did not celebrate it, would you not feel sad? Are there any superstitions that you hold in your heart? Might you feel, “I didn’t celebrate the New Year, and since Lunar New Year’s day was a bad day, won’t the whole of the rest of the year also be bad”? Would you not feel ill at ease and a bit afraid? There are even some people who have not made sacrifices to their ancestors in years and who suddenly have a dream in which a deceased person asks them for money. What would they feel? “How sad that this person now gone needs money to spend! I’ll burn some paper money for them. If I don’t, that just wouldn’t be right. It might cause trouble for us living people—who can say when misfortune will strike?” They will always have this little cloud of fear and worry in their hearts. Who gives them this worry? (Satan.) Satan is the source of this worry. Is this not one of the ways that Satan corrupts man? It uses different means and pretexts to control you, to threaten you, and to bind you, so that you fall into a daze and yield and submit to it; this is how Satan corrupts man. Often when people are weak or when they are not fully aware of the situation, they may inadvertently do something in a muddle-headed way; that is, they inadvertently fall into Satan’s grasp and might act unwittingly, might do things without knowing what they are doing. This is the way Satan corrupts man. There are even quite a few people now who are reluctant to part with deep-rooted traditional culture, who just cannot give it up. It is especially when they are weak and passive that they wish to celebrate these kinds of holidays and they wish to meet Satan and satisfy Satan again, to bring comfort to their hearts. What is the background to the traditional culture? Is the black hand of Satan pulling the strings behind the scenes? Is Satan’s evil nature manipulating and controlling? Does Satan hold sway over all of this? (Yes.) When people live in a traditional culture and celebrate these kinds of traditional holidays, could we say that this is an environment in which they are being fooled and corrupted by Satan, and moreover that they are happy to be fooled and corrupted by Satan? (Yes.) This is something you all acknowledge, something that you know about.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
Some things enjoyed by corrupt mankind and which are pursued by people are evil trends and the pleasures of sin; they are utterly without meaning, and moreover are senseless and degrading. Have you given up those kinds of things, or do you still live within them? For example, the secular holiday of Valentine’s Day, or Halloween—do you still celebrate them? These holidays are not at all in line with the truth, and they can only make people more and more corrupt. If someone cannot let go of them, that just shows that they do not have God in their heart. Those who have a distaste for these things are able to give them up; they can refrain from following the trends of the world and only pursue a life of normal humanity. All those things that corrupt mankind 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 unbelievers like those things—they all live within them and feel they are very enjoyable, fashionable, lofty, and wonderful. What does this show? Does it not show that their spirits are unclean? On certain holidays people of the world send certain kinds of flowers—is it meaningful to do such things? It is not meaningful at all. We feel aversion to such things, and we should establish a new kind of life since we believe in God. Unbelievers 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 are enriched. There are many people who are uninterested in unbelievers’ lives, but they do not have a new life, either, so they feel that their lives are very boring. If they understand some truths, then they will know what the meaningful things for them to do are and will then choose to do some meaningful things. What things can allow people to experience variety in their lives, to live fully, joyfully, and happily? When we do such meaningful things as eating and drinking God’s words, fellowshiping on the truth, and singing hymns in praise of God, for example, we feel that we live very happily, better than unbelievers. 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 has attained salvation. Having the likeness of one who has attained salvation means that one possesses a normal human life, a life of obeying and worshiping God. Then people will be able to have true happiness and enjoyment deep in their hearts. We gain happiness and enjoyment by understanding the truth and putting it into practice, and we rely on living before God for true enjoyment in our hearts. This enjoyment is much greater and much more fulfilling than that of living in sin and enjoying the pleasures of 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 heart, 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. How can the likeness of a human be lived out? It is lived out by relying on God’s words, and by living before God. If you understand the truth, have deep fulfillment and comfort in your heart, and 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 it will show in your face, and your life disposition will change. At this time, other people will be able to see that your mindset and your spiritual outlook are normal, and that your expressions are dignified and decent—this is the likeness of a human.
Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life