America loves Halloween.
Honestly, I have always had mixed feelings about Halloween. To trick-or-treat or not, that is the question. Or is it? Amongst the Christian community there has certainly been a lot of debate through the years as to whether it is appropriate to participate in the holiday or not. Personally, I have never liked the dark, almost evil emphasis the day has taken through the years.
Truth is, the Bible does not say anything directly about Halloween. Yes, the Bible clearly teaches that while we are “in” the world, we are not to be “of” it. As followers of God we are strongly encouraged in numerous places to avoid things like séances, reading of tarot cards, horoscopes, witchcraft, and a whole host of other areas relating to the spirit world. The danger for a Christians who participates in such activities is that the memories or images created in the experience have the power to weasel their way into our minds and can burrow holes into our faith relationship with God Himself. Doubt and fear that is left unchecked can have a devastating effect on our spiritual walk with God. These activities seem innocent enough at the start but can quickly mushroom into something ugly or even sinister.
Yes, we are urged not to conform ourselves to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:1-2), but I sometimes wonder if we have forgotten that we have been sent “to” the world by Christ Himself for the purpose of making more disciples. As we are “in” the world, following the Holy Spirit’s leading, there may be times we are led to places that are raw with life. Listen to the encouragement Jesus speaks to His disciples:
I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. (John 17:14-19)
There is nothing easy about being sent. I believe one of the reasons we are given the ability to speak and communicate is so we can share our faith with others. This being said, it should not surprise anyone to hear that many churches have traditionally taken a hands-off approach to Halloween. In recent years churches have taken up various approaches to the day: some put on haunted houses or Fall Festivals while others hold trunk-or-treat events.
So what do we do with Halloween? What kind of approach should we take that doesn’t contradict what we believe? What if we as Christians considered a different, more radical approach? What if we used this time as a missional opportunity to reach out to our neighbors who don’t yet have a relationship with Christ? Instead of handing out tracts or little treat bags of candy corn with nice Bible passages on it, we could use this time to show acts of kindness with the hope that seeds are being planted for future conversation around God-sized questions of grace and truth. I think Halloween presents the Church with a tremendous opportunity to reach into the lives of unchurched families who literally come right to the doorstep of our home. What if we, as the Church, intentionally shifted the focus of Halloween from something evil and dark to a Spirit-led movement of grace and life?
For example, I was reading the blog of a friend of mine and she gave a great example of how their family plans to use the night as a missional opportunity for their neighborhood. What their family is planning to do is pull out the grill to the front of their house, along with some lawn chairs, and will be offering people free hot dogs and hamburgers as they come by their home with the purpose of building relationships with their neighbors. How cool is that! As people grab some food or enjoy a soda seeds of opportunity are being planted for future conversation as relationships are being fostered. In the midst of Halloween night, over some food and chips, their home will literally become a Spirit-led movement of grace and life!
David Mathis has some powerful words on the Christian response to Halloween:
What if we took to the offensive on Halloween? Isn’t this how our God loves to show himself mighty? Just when the devil has a good head of steam, God, like a skilled ninja, uses the adversary’s body weight against him. It’s Satan’s own inertia that drives the stake into his heart. Just like the cross. It’s a kind of divine “trick”: Precisely when the demonic community thinks for sure they have Jesus cornered, he delivers the deathblow. Wasn’t it a Halloween-like gathering of darkness and demonic festival at Golgotha, the place of the Skull, when the God-man “disarmed the powers and authorities [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them” at the cross (Colossians 2:15)? (Quoted from David Mathis’ blog at www.desiringgod.org)
Gather the weapons, it is time for battle!
Halloween provides an opportunity to shine the light of Christ into a dark world! I have seen over and over again how in times of darkness God’s light seems to shine the brightest. So let’s pull out those grills and lawn chairs, stir up some refreshing drinks, and grab some “good” candy (none of that candy corn stuff; save it for packing filler) and get ready to lavish the people who cross our doorstep with the type of love and grace our Lord first extended to us. Just maybe, behind the mask standing before us is a family hurting, seeking for something more to their life. We, as followers of the One, True, and Living God have abiding within us the wellspring of life, gifted to us in an incredible moment of complete and utter darkness as Jesus agonizingly died on the cross. TheBattlemay be raging, but the war has already been won!
Remember, the mist of darkness won’t last forever … the “Light” has come!
Chasing “The” Light!