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Help Halloween!

October 27, 2012

It was October 2008 and Bex and I were settling down for the evening. It had been a long day and were treating ourselves by chilling out in front of the television.

“I wonder how many little heathens we’ll get knocking on the door begging for treats this year?” I asked, as I remembered it was Halloween.

“Jeremy! You don’t mean that” snapped Bex. She’s always been far more polite about these things.

Of course I was only playing, I meant no disrespect to anyone. But believe it or not, that was more or less my attitude.

A little while later, we received a quiet knock on the door.

“I’ll go love.” I said, whilst singing to myself  “onwards Christian soldier…”

“Be nice!” Bex called out as I walked towards the front door.

I opened the door to find 2 small children, no older than 9 or 10 I guess although it’s hard to tell these days. They looked pretty shabby I thought. I mean how reasonable is it to call a bin liner sellotaped to your t-shirt a proper Halloween costume? And the other one just had mascara on their face! Surely they weren’t expecting to be rewarded for this!

“trick or treat?” they mumbled rather nervously.

I paused as I considered my plan of attack. I had spotted my sword on the stairs behind me; my English Standard Version bible – ready with highlighted sections for ease of access. I could swing that a few times and cut them right down to size! What bible verses could I turn to? What profound statements could I make? What an opportunity I had to loom in holiness over these sinners!

I looked at my watch, and then looked again at the two young children stood at my door and decided to have mercy on them, after all I wanted to get back to my nice warm sofa and television, getting into a deep conversation with 2 children would be time consuming.

“I’m sorry guys I don’t believe in Halloween so I shan’t be giving you any treats!” I said, rather succinctly.

As I returned to my lounge to continue watching TV, I thought about what I had just said, and how I had treated those 2 young children who had bravely knocked on my door.

As a man who has grown up in a Christian home, I had developed over the years certain Christian opinions, principles and practices, most of which I still hold as important today. However every so often, I encounter a situation that does not compute!

This is where I am confronted with a particular situation that my upbringing feels very strongly about. However, there is something of a conflict, as I hear my upbringing dictating in my ear on one shoulder that which ought to be my perspective and then hearing the “current” me disagree with it on the other shoulder.

No doubt I am not alone, I think it’s part and parcel of growing up! Once and while I have to unpick and re-establish my opinion on certain things, once and a while certain practices and principles that have been wedged in so firmly have to be dislodged.

Little did I know but as I returned to my sofa that evening, in the depths of my heart a particular perspective was being well and truly challenged.

What did I mean that I didn’t believe in Halloween?

Was I saying that I didn’t believe it existed? Obviously not, that would be stupid.

Was I saying that I didn’t believe in the darker side of Halloween; in the practice of witchcraft and the Occult? Again, no as I do believe these things not only exist but have a hugely damaging impact on those who get involved.

What, then, was I saying that I didn’t believe? I was troubled…I couldn’t seem to find an answer.

Then it came to me, I didn’t believe that Halloween was right. I didn’t believe that it was a good way for me to live. I didn’t believe that it was a good way for those children to live.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I realised that I had faithfully discharged life guidance to those young children, I’m sure the Apostle Paul would have been proud. How lucky they were to have knocked on my door; their parents should probably thank me – no doubt those children were returning to their homes, with their heads hanging in shame, totally provoked and challenged by the fact that “the bloke from number 46” didn’t ‘believe’ in Halloween.

…Of course, deep down, I knew that wasn’t what was happening at all. The truth was they just moved on to the next house and had probably decided that next year they wouldn’t bother knocking on my door. More than likely I was already being black listed, just like my dad had been by the Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was a child.

I started to think a little deeper. I started to feel quite uncomfortable with how I had just handled myself.

I started to feel the ache of missed opportunity. I know that feeling well.

“But Halloween is wrong!” I said to myself, trying to justify how I had behaved. “People need to know that!”

The problem is me standing on my door step telling 10 year olds that Halloween is wrong, just won’t have the desired affect… at all! All I was achieving was isolating myself from the young people in my street, and I really didn’t want to do that.

Quick rule of thumb: If you’re communicating the gospel in a way that doesn’t give hope to the unbeliever, then you’re not communicating the gospel.

This got me thinking about a lot of things.

There’s plenty that I could announce to my family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues that is wrong, but shouldn’t my efforts as a witness to the mercy of God run deeper than that? Shouldn’t I be making more of an effort than that? Isn’t the gospel more effective than that?

It struck me as a little sad that at the age of 23 I had never been to a single Halloween Party. I couldn’t even recall having been invited to one.

“I am sure I must have been – I mean I’m a fun guy to be around – just imagine what a great time you would have with someone telling you that you are wrong all the time!!”

“Oh dear!” I was starting to realise that things need adjusting in my mind. The change taking place in my heart was working it’s way to my head.

I had started to learn a very very valuable lesson in life ‘win the person and not the argument’

At the end of the day, as and when my friends start to question life, and want to know the Christian point of view, then I want them to feel like they can come and talk to me. I am sure you want the same in your life – but how likely is that to happen if we as Christians only ever tell our unbelieving friends that they are doing life wrong?

One of the things that strikes me about Jesus is that He struck that beautiful tension between being hard hitting in His perspective to sin, but yet in a way that was inviting to those who were guilty of it. I want to get that tension right. I don’t want to water down what the bible teaches, I don’t want to grow comfortable with sin. But I want people to feel comfortable around me.

Like Jesus I want to be invited to parties, I want to be known as someone who befriends people that the ‘religious and legalistic’ people don’t mix with.

If and when I get that tension right, then the potential for salvation amongst my nearest and dearest will increase.

So what about you?

Halloween is just around the corner, and maybe like me you aren’t keen on it, but perhaps this year is a good time for you to consider the opportunity you have as groups of young people (sometimes with parents) come knocking on your door.

Perhaps this year is a good time to leave them with a sweet taste in their mouth as opposed to a bitter one (excuse the pun).

Maybe this year Halloween could help you.

For an idea of a good way to get the gospel and Halloween working together follow this link to UCB’s website.

  1. Vicki permalink

    My mum (good old mums) has always said a positive attitude is always better than a negative one and answers the door on Halloween with “We are a Christian family which means we don’t celebrate Halloween but you are our neighbours and we would like to give you some sweets because you are our neighbours and not because it’s Halloween” The kids often give my mum an odd look but are also happy to be getting sweets! I guess it’s down to personal opinion whether this is still encouraging Halloween or whether it is using the opportunity to share a different message and hopefully have that message remember rather than they are the family that didn’t give us sweets? It is tough as there is not a lot kids of that age will take in from a 2 minute stop outside your front door.

    • Hi Vicki,

      Excellent comment, I think you’re right the main thing is utilising that opportunity to engage with our community. How many other times do we have so many people knocking on our door?

      Thanks for leaving a comment mate.

  2. Sylvia permalink

    We always have sweets for any children who knock, but also have had a children’s level tract to give as well. if they’re older children we’ve tried to have a brief conversation to make them think about what they were doing too. But there’s not a lot you can do on the doorstep when all they want is to grab and go on to the next house.

    One of the best helps is the churches who put on ‘Light parties’,especially if they can happen at the time the children would be going out trick or treating. It means children whose parents don’t want them to celebrate evil don’t feel they’re missing out on treats AND it gives them something to invite friends to so they are influenced for good too.

    • Hi Sylvia,

      It sounds to me that you’ve got an excellent tension. We are starting to use the ‘bag of hope’ idea that UCB provide. It’s a similar idea in that we can provide them with a bag full of sweets and also helpful literature for them to read.

      It’s a tricky one but it’s a great opportunity to share Jesus with people. Having said that no one knocked on our house tonight – spent a lot of money on snacks as well… oh well Bex and I will have to eat them all 😀

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