In the world, not of the World
Every year I find myself as a Christian wondering where exactly the line is when it comes to participating in Halloween. When I look at Halloween, and research it, I find arguments on both side of the equation. Some say it’s an adaptation of a Christian holiday, “All Hallows” or “All Saints” day. On the other side of the equation we hear that it is a celebration of paganism, and I find myself wondering what Jesus would do or say about these kinds of things, especially Halloween (since we just had it).
As a Christian, and a pastor, I am always trying to find ways to reach the people in my community. We, as a church, provide many events that will “draw” people to the church so that we can share the love of God with them, and to tell them just how much Jesus loves them. We do things like vacation Bible school, we have a “Harvest Party” in place of Halloween, we involve ourselves in many community activities so that we can show God’s love in a practical way. We support our local youth center, “En-Gedi”, and we provide a community food pantry to support those that need some basic needs cared for.
I find that I am always trying to draw people to my church, and sometimes those are great “successes”, and other times they are “flops.” But if you told me that I could have hundreds, and hundreds of kids and families come right to my doorstep, and all I would have to do to minister to them is be kind…I would do that in a heartbeat. If I shut off my lights and sat in my house and ignored my community then I don’t think I would be doing what Jesus called us to do. To be in the world but not of the world is a fine line…and where exactly does that come from? Let’s look at what Jesus says.
John 17:13-18: 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
Jesus prays in verse 18, “…As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” We all know that Jesus was “other” worldly…in other words, He came from Heaven to Earth, and it was very evident that He was different than us. He came teaching, doing miracles, and He was perfect. Jesus is saying that as God sent Him on a mission, so Jesus sends us on a mission to make disciples.
So what would Jesus do? I’m not sure exactly. To be sure there is a spiritual battle at war in our world. The Bible tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of evil in this world, and that is a real battle. I just don’t think that a 7-year-old in a princess costume represents that. But I do know that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. That, along with loving our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is our highest calling. That’s the prism we ought to look through when we decide what is best for us.
Rev. Tom Holloway
15671 Algoma Ave, Cedar Springs