Halloween is a hot button issue in Christian circles these days. Some claim that participating means that we are promoting a satanic holiday.
I don't agree.
God can use anything to bring people to him.
So what makes Halloween so controversial anyway?
Halloween has its roots in the pagan ritual of Samhain. It was a night when the Celtic culture believed the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred, and the dead would walk among them causing all sorts of mischief. They would light fires upon which they would burn both animal and crop sacrifices in hopes of appeasing these spirits and stopping their mischief. Part of this ritual of sacrifice included dressing in animal skins and dancing around the bonfires.
Yes, it is a somewhat sinister origin. But we cannot ignore that these were strongly misguided people whose faith and religious ideals centered around nature and myths. They were a lost people.
The holiday continued to transform over the centuries, picking up new traditions from the different people groups who migrated throughout the world and into America, leaving us with the Halloween that we know today.
(If you'd like to read all about the history of Halloween, here's a good starting place. Don't just take other people's word—including mine—as fact. Do your own research. https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween)
So Where Do We Draw the Line?
If we are going to denounce Halloween as unacceptable due to its origins, we might as well scrub the other dirty influences in our lives clean, right?
Such as Easter, which originated with the pagan spring festivals that celebrated fertility. It's thought that the word Easter itself may have come from "Eostre," the German goddess of fertility. The day clearly had nothing at all to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Then there's Christmas. A time that Christians are supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ, not secular, pagan, or worldly traditions of decorating trees (which originated in the pagan festival of Yule), going into debt (LOTS of warning about this in God's Word), and holding our breath in anticipation of some mythical jolly fellow who eats way too many cookies and breaks into people's houses. It seems we are promoting gluttony, greed, magic, lying, and wickedness!
Or maybe we should boycott wedding rings since their origin dates back to the Ancient Egyptian culture, which not only believed in some pretty sketchy gods but also enslaved the people of God for hundreds of years.
You see, that's the problem with legalism. When we depend on popular opinion, religious tradition, and even Scripture taken out of context, to motivate our speech and actions, it backs us into a corner with no idea where to draw the line. Jesus wasn't impressed by the legalism of His time. Just read Matthew 15:1-20 for a quick overview of His thoughts on the matter.
We are all sinners in need of a savior, and all sin is unacceptable in God's eyes—yes, even all those little "white lies" that we think don't matter. Believing that there are some hard and set rules, that life's choices are only black and white with no gray area at all...well, that's legalism, and it leaves absolutely no room for the transforming power of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Redeem the Day!
What do Easter and Christmas now have in common (besides the obvious, of course)? They are redeemed from their questionable past. We no longer think of Easter or Christmas as having pagan roots.
Why do we not focus our efforts on redeeming Halloween rather than shunning it and all who participate in it?
Jesus didn't ignore the villages and towns where sin was rampant in the streets. He didn't surround Himself only with people who shared His opinions and beliefs.
He transformed hearts and minds! Not by separating from them or spewing Scripture at them in an attempt to defend His stance. He walked with them, ate with them, sat with them, was kind to them, talked to them, served them...He loved them!
Redeem the day!
Transform the hearts and minds by getting out there, by being the hands and feet of Jesus, by being a light in a world of darkness. Love people!
We don't redeem this day by snubbing our noses at those who choose to participate in Halloween.
We don't even redeem this day by modifying its practices to be more Christian like (trunk-or-treats, fall festivals, etc.) and then expecting a lost and depraved world to flock to us—although those are a great start.
We redeem this day by going out to them and letting them see Jesus in us.
Romans 12:21 says:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What a fantastic opportunity Halloween provides to love on people! People who are lonely, overworked, stressed, and burdened by the state of our world—people who don't know the hope and peace that Jesus provides. On this one day of the year, people will freely knock on your door, or allow you to knock on theirs!
Be kind. Look them in the eye. Smile! Say please and thank you. Be a light and pray that God will literally open a door for you to bring hope to someone who doesn't know Him.
Test all things; hold fast to that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
I equate this with our more modern colloquialism, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."
Test the holiday. Find the good and hold fast to it. Redeem the day by transforming hearts and minds for Jesus. You can't do that if you're not out there among the people who need Him.
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