On October 31, many Americans will celebrate Halloween. In my own lifetime, what was once a day (actually, a night) primarily for children has now grown to encompass people of all ages. Costumes, once fairly tame, have become, well, bizarre. Yes, we still see an abundance of superheroes and Disney characters, but some costumes celebrate the macabre, if not the downright inglorious. What should we, as Christians, make of it?
In the past, I have read articles written by Christians debating the issue of Halloween with titles such as “Why Christians Absolutely Should Not Celebrate Halloween,” “Is Halloween Pagan in Origin?”, and “The Christian Origins of Halloween.” One story even reported, much to my sadness, “Houston’s ‘Great Church of Lucifer’ Opening on Halloween.”
I am well aware of the debate, and I know the religious, as well as the not-so-religious, origins of what came to be known in the English-speaking world as “Hallowe’en.” If you are interested in its history and development, I encourage you to do your research and form your own opinions. However, one thing is clear: every day, and especially on the most prominent days of our lives, we can choose either to embrace the world or to embrace Jesus Christ.
A decision for a lifetime
Making a decision to live for Jesus may have occurred for you on a single day or even in a single moment, but its significance was intended to last a lifetime. This applies not only to days such as Christmas and Easter but also to days such as Halloween – and every day in between.
Each day is an opportunity to place the Son of God at the center of our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
As Paul the Apostle wrote so very long ago, “Dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8, NLT)
But the choice is ours.
The past, but also the present
I remember as a child in elementary school being told that we were to dress up and come to school for Halloween as figures from the Bible. Not storybook characters or fearful creatures, but angels and holy ones from the Word of God.
I also remember coming home that day and asking my mother, “Why was I named ‘John’?” She told me she had named me for John the Baptist.
My mother and I then proceeded to make a simple costume for me: a burlap sack (holes cut out for my head and arms), a piece of rope for my belt, and a large stick for my staff. I cannot put into words how proud I was to arrive at school on “the big day” and offer myself as a much younger, and much shorter, version of the New Testament herald of Jesus Christ.
That was over fifty years ago, but I remember it so well that I can still feel the roughness of the burlap on my skin and its smell in my nose.
In America today, we cannot require a parade of Biblical heroes in public school. Like prayer and readings from the Word of God (yes, we had those at school in my day as well), God has been suspended indefinitely from public education in the United States.
But we don’t have to go down without a fight.
Imagine sending your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew out of the house on Halloween as an angel. Or dressing them as Moses (a brown robe and faux beard with some cardboard tablets) or as Mary, the mother of Jesus (a blue robe and head covering with a baby doll). It won’t change the world, but it might move one friend – or one teacher – or one neighbor – closer to Jesus.
The present, but also the future
Trust me, I am not a Pollyanna, nor am I a dreamer with my head stuck in the clouds. I am a realist, but I am also a Christian.
I see what is happening in our homes and schools and cities every day. So do you. The world did not come to know Jesus in a single day, nor will it lose Him in a single day. However, the road to Heaven, as well as the road to Hell, is walked one day at a time. This is why we must put Christ back in Christmas – and Halloween – and every day. This is why living for Jesus must be the focus of our lives each day, from the most important moments to the most mundane ones.
It’s up to us
What happens to us and our loved ones in this world and in the world to come is largely up to us. We cannot switch Jesus “on” and “off” when it suits us. We cannot bring Him out once or twice a year, or when things are going really well or really poorly, and then put Him away until the next time we need Him.
Jesus Christ is our King, and our lives must declare this truth.
But it’s up to us.
Lukewarm may work for baby baths and washing dishes, but, in matters of faith, it is abhorrent to Almighty God (Revelation 3:15-16).
Today, let us stand up for Jesus Christ. Let us return Him to His rightful place as Lord of our lives. Whatever this looks like for you, and wherever you and the Holy Spirit decide to draw the line, let us do it together – and let us begin today.
Because life is truly worth living once Jesus becomes the reason for living it.
-- Dr. John Morris