Help it’s Halloween!!!
It was October 2008 and it had been a long day, so to compensate Bex and I 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 night.
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 babe.” 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. They looked pretty shabby, I mean how reasonable is it to call a bin liner sellotaped to your t-shirt a proper Halloween costume? 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 ESV – highlighted 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 vulnerable 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 on your way!” 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, and I started to feel quite uncomfortable.
What did I even 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… and then the answer came to me, I didn’t believe that Halloween was right.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I realised that I had faithfully discharged wisdom to those young children, I’m sure the Apostle Paul would have been proud. How lucky they were to have knocked on my door – no doubt those children were returning to their homes, with their heads hanging in shame, provoked and challenged by the fact that “the bloke from number 46” didn’t ‘believe’ in Halloween.
…Of course, 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.
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.
It would be very easy to spend my life shouting at everyone who 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?
Then it dawned on me that I had never been to a Halloween party not because I disagreed with them but because I hadn’t actually ever 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.
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, but how likely is that to happen if I’m only ever telling people that they are doing life wrong?
Jesus struck a beautiful tension between being hard hitting in His perspective to sin, but inviting to those who were guilty of it. I want to get that tension right.
Like Jesus I want to be invited to parties, I want to be known as someone who befriends people that the ‘religious elite’ don’t mix with.
So what about you?
Maybe you consider Halloween as a festival of darkness – but it’s only light that can disperse darkness and your light won’t shine if you hide it away.
For an idea of a good way to get the gospel and Halloween working together follow this link to UCB’s website.