|Synopsis: The term witch-hunt is reminiscent of the Salem witch trials, when well-meaning so-called Christians were caught up in hysteria over the possibility that certain members of the community were in cahoots with Satan. The result of that hysteria brought about dark days that did only harm to the name of Jesus.|
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Fortunately, those days are over. Or are they? Are Christians returning to an unhealthy paranoia about who and what is associated with Satan? The answer seems to be yes when it comes to the subject of Halloween night.
Let me say that I am not unaware of the schemes of Satan on this night. I have researched and I believe that on this night animals and perhaps even humans are sacrificed by satanic worshipers in every part of the United States and in the world. I have studied in-depth the history of the various elements of Halloween: jack-o-lanterns, wearing costumes to ward off dead and evil spirits, etc. I know what happens on Devil’s Night in Detroit. I agree that this and much more about what takes place on Halloween night is pure evil.
Let me also say that I am not unaware of the innocence that takes place on this night. Children dress up as cartoon characters and playfully walk down the street with family members to solicit candy from the neighbors. Baby boomers throw block parties where bobbing for apples is the scariest part of the evening. Local churches put on fall festivals and invite the community to attend. I believe there is nothing harmful at all about events like these.
Given that both evil and innocence occur on the same night, what is the Christian response to this cultural phenomenon we call Halloween? Or, rephrasing the question, what would Jesus do on Halloween night if he were me?
First, Jesus would not condemn innocent (some might say ignorant) Christian participation in certain Halloween traditions – like the carving of jack-o-lanterns or dressing up in costume. Romans 14:13-22 and 1 Corinthians 10:25-31 both speak of eating meat sacrificed to idols. The first command in both passages is for those who don’t eat the meat, and essentially says, "Keep quiet. Don’t judge. Don’t point a finger at the one who eats the meat." The second command is for those who do eat the meat and says basically, "Look, if your brother has a problem with you eating that meat, then don’t cause him to stumble by eating it." So, if I see a fellow Christian carving a jack-o-lantern or dressing up in costume, I will keep my mouth shut even if it bothers me because of how these traditions originated. Likewise, though I know there is nothing evil about either one of these traditions, if I think it will cause a less mature Christian to stumble in her faith because of them, then I will not participate.
Second, Jesus would not spend his time condemning non-Christians of evil on Halloween night – instead he would be walking among them to share His love and grace. How often was Jesus accused of being evil because he kept company with prostitutes? Did he condone or participate in their sin? Certainly not. He gave grace and love to point the way to Himself. John 3:17 says that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it. Would Jesus walk through a haunted house? I believe he would if he were with a group of people that were lost and needed someone to explain a greater fear than that of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Would Jesus offer treats to those that came to his door? I believe he would so that he could share with them what humans should do when Jesus comes knocking on our hearts door. Would Jesus carve a face into a pumpkin and put a candle inside? I believe he might, but his face would have a smile and he would use it to explain to others that He is the light of the world. Would Jesus dress up in costume? I believe he would, and he would explain to others what it means to "put on Jesus Christ" or to wear the armor of God.
On the other hand, Jesus also might be so grieved by the evil that does take place on Halloween night that he and a few others might withdraw quietly to a private place and pray – as he was often in the habit of doing. He might walk through the streets of Detroit on Devil’s night and offer his touch to those who fell in harms way. He might decide to use the night to focus on the needs of the persecuted church around the world and the horrors that they face more and more every day.
The point is, Jesus would not spend time looking for and publicly denouncing evil, but instead loving people and touching them where they live and where they hurt. As Christians, we should do no less.
Use this Halloween as an opportunity to imitate Jesus, not to go on a witch-hunt. The world around us will be drawn to Christ only when his followers imitate and point the way to Him. Don’t let the world see October 31 as the night when Satan comes out. Let’s stand together and imitate Christ so much that they see it as the night when Jesus really comes alive.
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