I must confess that I’m smirking a little as I begin this post.
I mean really, do we really need another blog post about Halloween and Christianity?
I’ve seen posts passionately proclaiming Christians shouldn’t participate in Halloween. I’ve seen posts adamantly asserting we should. And I have to say, I’m highly doubtful that my few little thoughts here will change the minds of Christians in either of those camps.
Which isn’t a bad thing, since that’s not my goal anyway.
I simply want to share what my family does. Not because how we treat Halloween makes us better Christ-followers than you, or because the way you do it means you’re not as holy as we are. Let me assure you that is not at all the case. Because really, we don’t hold super strong convictions about Halloween itself.
And so Halloween itself? Not really a big deal.
When I live with my life’s primary purpose in mind, Halloween becomes just another day for us to steward well.
Steward our minutes.
Steward the Gospel.
Steward our resources.
Steward our relationships.
Steward our encounters with friends and strangers and people who may or may not know about our Jesus.
People who are divinely appointed to cross our path. For such a time as this.
How can we be good stewards of Halloween? There really are lots of ways it can be done, and I’m going to offer our family’s tradition. But first, let’s consider a few biblical principles.
Approve that which is excellent. (Philippians 1:10) This is a pretty high standard. And really, this simple principle brings a whole lot of clarity to a whole lot of gray matter in life. It takes the focus away from “Is this okay?” or “Is this sinful?” and elevates it to “Is this best?”
(Pssst…Have you ever noticed that when Christians want to defend certain behavior, we often pose the question: “What’s the harm?” I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that’s a pretty low standard. When it comes to my family and what we value and anticipate and cherish and celebrate, I want to aim much higher than simply that which doesn’t cause obvious harm.)
Set your affections on things above. (Colossians 3:2) I’m cringing a little bit now, because this is an area in which I frequently fall short. But what I love about this truth is that it raises the bar beyond our actions, getting to the heart of our motives. Where do my affections lie? And even more, where am I encouraging my children to place their affections?
Don’t be conformed to the world. (Romans 12:2) Christ-followers are called to be set apart. Not in a freakish way that makes people want to avoid us. But in a way that signifies that we’ve experienced the rebirth that is characteristic of believers in Jesus Christ.
Be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13-16) Just like you wouldn’t hide a lamp under a basket, Christians ought not withdraw from society in the name of preserving our light. Because after all, what good is the light if it’s not penetrating darkness? And what good is salt if it just hangs around with other salt? Light is meant to illuminate the darkness and salt is meant to season the tasteless.
But here’s the thing we forget sometimes: light and dark are opposites. Just as the light is useless if it’s hidden, it’s equally useless if it’s extinguished, thus becoming just like the darkness it’s supposed to be expelling.
And I’m afraid that too often we lose our saltiness — that which distinguishes us and defines our purpose for existing. Which pretty much makes us worthless. (Matthew 5:16)
Yes, being the light means that Christians need to get out there and engage our culture.
But we’ll be rendered almost useless unless we do it in a way that sets us apart as His.
In a way that’s engaging and compassionate and so dazzlingly love-filled that dark-living people can’t help but shield their eyes as they smile and take a second look.
And that sounds a lot like what we’ve experienced with our Halloween tradition we call Truth and Treat.
It goes something like this:
We work together as a family to fill goody bags with a gospel tract and candy (and we buy plenty of extra so our kids aren’t “deprived” of their fair share of sugar).
We get together with friends and hit the streets, knocking on doors of unsuspecting residents. It’s really a blast to surprise homeowners who are expecting to be bombarded with demands for candy, and instead let them know we’re there to give rather than to receive.
We ask how we can pray for them. If God prompts us and grants an opportunity, we’ll ask if they have a church home. Perhaps we’ll tell them about our church and our God.
In case you’re wondering, we don’t dress up. We make that choice for two reasons:
First, not wearing costumes reminds us that we’re on a mission. We’re on the streets for a purpose that far supersedes candy accumulation. And even though that intention is pretty unwavering for adults, the waters might tend to get muddied for kids if they’re in costumes just like everyone else.
Just as importantly, not wearing costumes lets everyone else know that something is different about us. Not in an ew-they’re-weird-what’s-wrong-with-them kind of way. I’m pretty sure it’s more like a wow-that-was-different-but-also-really-cool kind of way, as we ooh over princesses and gawk at super heroes and smile at babies and shake parents’ hands and pass out lots of truth and lots of treats.
So can I just say that I don’t think the best question for a Christ-follower is whether participating in Halloween is right or wrong.
Just like all of life in big ways and small, it’s about stewardship.
In a way that aims for excellent light shining and salt spreading.
Even our Halloweens.