A few days ago, most traditional churches and their members observed Easter. They colored and hid eggs for their children to find Easter morning. This is a custom they keep each year to celebrate and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They observe Easter in the belief that they are serving and pleasing God by doing so.
In about three weeks, we in the Church of God will be observing Passover, followed by the seven days of unleavened bread. At Passover services, we will wash each other's feet and take the symbols of unleavened bread and wine. During the days of unleavened bread we will eat unleavened bread and avoid eating any leavened products. These are customs we keep year by year to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and to remember the lesson of putting sin out of our lives and the righteousness of Christ into our lives. We observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in the belief that we are obeying and pleasing God by doing so.
Why do the people of the world keep Easter? They do it to follow the traditions of their churches, traditions they were raised in from their childhood, traditions passed on for centuries from generation to generation.
Why do we keep Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread? Tradition may be a part of the reason, especially for those who have grown up in the Church of God. But tradition should not be the only reason. We should keep these days because God commands us to keep them in His word, the Bible. That should be more important to us than tradition.
Some of us who came into the Church from other religions have had to give up the traditions we were raised in in order to obey God. Before we did that, many of us proved from the Bible that it is God's will that we observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and not Easter.
It's important that we do the right things for the right reasons. Motivation and attitude count with God.
Consider this example. "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:1-6).
We should pray to communicate with God, not to make a good impression on other people. Likewise, we should serve the brethren to really help them, not to impress others in the congregation so they think well of us. Our reason and motive for helping others should be love - outgoing concern for their happiness and well-being - not personal vanity.
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3).
Yet, motivation is invisible. You cannot always tell by observation what a person's motivation is. We are more likely to know by the fruits over time, but God knows everyone's heart instantly, even better than the person knows his own heart.
The man or woman who serves others from a motive of vanity or selfish ambition, wanting to impress others, may be doing the right thing in serving others. It is always better to help others than to hurt others. But he or she is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
One can do the right thing for the wrong reason or for the right reason. We need to do the right thing for the right reason.
What has this got to do with Easter and Passover?
My point is, we should observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and avoid Easter observance for the right reason, because we have proved God's will in this matter in the Bible and because we believe what God says.
Our practice of observing God's holy days and not pagan holidays should not be based only on our tradition. We should do it because we have proved it in the Bible. Then, our tradition can be a reinforcement of what we have proved to be God's truth.
But if we have never proved these things, if we are only doing what we do because of the traditions given to us by our parents, how are we different from those in the world who practice their family traditions in keeping Easter?
It is not that the keeping of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are bad if they are just based on tradition. We are certainly better off keeping the right traditions God has given us than the wrong traditions of this world.
But tradition should not be our only reason. We should prove from the Bible that God wants us to observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and not keep Easter. That way, our faith will be in God, not our parents, ourselves, or our ministers. Our motivation will be to believe, trust, and obey God's word, to live by every word of God as Jesus Christ did (Matthew 4:4).
If you have grown up in the Church and have never proved these things, I encourage you to do so. And if you have been in the Church of God for a long time and have not reviewed the proofs of these things for a long time, this might be a good time to do so.
Let's make sure we can prove what we believe and practice from the Bible, and let's make sure our motive is not just to feel comfortable in our familiar traditions or only to "fit in" with the congregation, but to believe, trust, and obey God's word.
Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:
Passover -- the Sacrifice of Christ, Chapter 2
The Days of Unleavened Bread - Repentance, Chapter 2
Traditional Christian Holidays, Chapter 2