not a horrendous event
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 5:8-18
The Church is to be the incarnation of Jesus in the world (Ephesians 1:22-23). The church is to be Redemptive, Light and Life. We have biblical grounds for a redemptive mission, and a biblical call as disciples. There are hosts of Christians who don’t know that Hallowe’en was originally a holy occasion, not the horrendous event its become.
How are we, who were formerly in the dark, to now walk in the light?
We are to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (v. 9). The traits of the fruit of the Spirit always have a beauty and a dignity to them, and they never have a feisty, in-your-face spit-back attitude. The way you walk as children of light is to avoid the anger that goes on in the name of supposed righteousness so many times in the Body of Christ. And it deserves regularly to be confronted. It come many times out of being wounded, and when we’re wounded, we’re tempted to strike back. We are to discern what is “acceptable to the Lord” (v. 10).
Let something about the light in you make clear how meaningless the dark is (v. 11). To expose the fruitlessness of darkness isn’t to recite a litany of dead deeds (v. 12). So many times you’ll find people “exposing the darkness” by talking about all the things that are corrupt and rotten in the world. This is not to discount that they may be, but the fact is, we’re already pretty aware of that, and the Bible says you don’t need to build a rebuttal against the darkness. People in the dark know things are coming unglued. What we need to do is shine as light.
Where there’s a bright light shining, people are going to find their way home. The Church needs to do more light-shining and less door-slamming on the world. Let life “lighten” a dead world (v. 14).
How do you let “life” lighten a dead world?
Don’t become trapped in the world’s ways (v. 15). Learn to discern what’s going on around you. Watch for redemptive opportunity, and stand against the pressures to conform (v. 16). How you resist those pressures to conform to the culture (Romans 12:2) can either be with spit-in-their-face animosity, or it can simply be by letting the radiance and the fullness of the life of Christ in you dominate.
Love always wins. It may look sometimes like love is getting punched out because you don’t take a more aggressive stance, but ultimately, love always wins. If you need evidence, there’s an empty tomb in Jerusalem. The keys are: understand the will and the way of the Lord (v. 17); don’t concede to carnal indulgence (v. 18a); and do keep on being filled with the Spirit (v. 18b).
Joseph is a model for us
The Lord’s use of Joseph in the culture of his time is a magnificent example for us. Instead of fleeing the evil, humanist, idolatrous culture of Egypt upon his release from prison, Joseph goes to work helping Pharaoh and accepts a place of recognition. Joseph models the very person Jesus Christ has called the people of God to be redemptively in the world: To love the world like He loves the world, including helping it through its famine, being consistent to what you’ve been called to be, and letting the light and the life of God shine through you.
The call is not one of protest
We are called to be a transforming influence, not a “damning” one. Within our evangelical traditional there may be found a small but vocal group who see criticism as “discernment” and separatism as “pursuing holiness.” This manifests in the ecclesiastical as denominational separatism, in the ethical as moral snobbishness, and in the cultural as a sniping at traditions.
Jesus said in order for the world to come to know the love of God, the Church must move as one people (“That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You: that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21). Too much of the Church’s time is spent criticizing and judging others in the Body who “aren’t as right as we are.” Any one of us may be vulnerable to the same thing as those who pass judgment against us. This separation within the Body of Christ is the most destructive feature to the cause of the Gospel. The Lord Jesus said that the very condition of the world coming to know the love of God calls for the Church to move as one people.
There is a tendency to become irritated at the present culture and fight back, rather than to be light and to reach in love to the world all the time. Moral snobbishness poses a constant threat and temptation to our being what Jesus calls us to be.
Sniping at traditions
A response-attitude toward those seasons that hold the potential for taking something beautiful or holy and corrupting or distorting it. From refusing to celebrate Christmas entirely, to rejecting decoration or gift exchanges, or to having a fit over Santa.
The call is to positive action – We are called “from” and “to”
The Bible calls us from being yoked to the unworthy, from fellowshipping with the darkness, and from being in agreement with demons (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). We are called to becoming salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt and light both have to infiltrate in order to penetrate. The “separation” is not a decision to be away from, but because a flavor (salt) enters and makes an impact. When light enters where darkness is, the separation is because the darkness flees, not because the light backs away and says, “I’m brighter and I need to be careful of my brightness.”
We are called to be shining lights, to hold forth the Word, and to be blessers of the world by the way we show the love of Jesus without grumbling and arguing. In Philippians 2:14-16 Paul’s counsel is: Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life….
Answering the call as disciples
We are called to offer “light with flavor” in a world bound in confusion because it’s blinded by deception. It is always easier to destroy than to redeem, to curse than to become a blessing, to pass judgment than to seek how to save.
The method of the Redeemer is to see what is lost and seek to save, and to pour yourself into the form of the deformed to recover the original image and purpose. The model of the Redeemer is transformation through incarnation, rather than elimination through damnation.
The essence of redemption’s mission is seen in Jesus, the pioneer. But His narrow way is not a narrow-minded way. The divine plan is to become more human rather than non-human (John 1:14). What the world should see in believers who are different from the world is a greater warmth of humanity, a greater understanding of why, for example, people would want to feast, to give gifts, and to enjoy the love that comes at Christmas season. Jesus demonstrates true biblical separation, a lifestyle that fully takes place in the world without become of the world. (John 4:27; Matthew 9:9-13).
If Jesus had been seen by somebody with a present-day radio ministry, He might have gotten a tirade done him because “Jesus was seen at such-and-such a place up there in Samaria. And incidentally, we all know what goes on in Samaria…” The Pharisees criticized His being with the publicans and sinners. But the publicans and sinners were looking for somebody who came with the warmth of full, true humanity and offered something more than they were finding by reason of their blindness and darkness. True biblical separation is always conscious that we are not here to judge but to show the Father.
Historical origin of Hallowe’en
Hallowe’en means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” (The apostrophe is for the missing “v”.) Its history reaches back over a thousand years, when All Saints’ Day (November 1) was established to commemorate the faithful and the martyred who have gone on. All Saints’ Day was a celebration of heroes of the Kingdom. Because it was a day acknowledged with fasting, it became a tradition to “hallow” the evening before. But instead of a holy commemoration, it became a time of indulgence, like Mardi Gras. Eventually this led to sending the children to beg for more indulgences from the neighbors, then to pranksterism which evolved into the play-up of evil–the witches, goblins and ghouls, and finally the most sinister–satanic worship and blood sacrifice. Today Hallowe’en is second only to Christmas as the most economically profitable celebration on our calendar.
Hallowe’en was at first harmless, but what began as a playful excursion has become entrance into a dark world of the occult for increasing numbers. There’s an obvious need for something redemptive to take place. The Church ought to take a role, not of protest but of positive action.
Commit to “incarnate joy,” not “assassinate evil.” This is not a call to the Church to celebrate All Saints’ Day, but a call to commemorate testimonies and triumphs, and to honor people who have advanced the Gospel, served humanity and made a difference in their culture in the name of the living God. Mixed with autumn decoration and good humor, here are some practical suggestions about how to spend October 31 “redeeming Hallowe’en”:
Let the spirit of gratitude begin to fill your heart in preparation for the season of Thanksgiving.
Celebrate with your family or friends, sharing testimonies of God’s goodness, deliverance and provision. Focus on the big occasions in which you know that without God’s intervention, you wouldn’t have made it (Psalm 107), and on overcoming (Revelation 12).
Share family stories are about how you came to know Jesus. Look together at picture albums, videos. Begin to collect memorabilia of special breakthroughs or family testimony, and decorate with mementos that give honor and commemoration.
Make it a special day for the kids. We don’t need to deny children fun to verify faith. None of us need to be boring to be godly or unhappy to be holy:
- Hold a “Jesus Loves You” or “All Saints’ Day” party with costumes based on characters from the Bible or Church history;
- Show an adventure video featuring a hero of faith;
- Have the kids create skits of heroic Bible stories (video these for replaying next year);
- Do pumpkin carving;
- Take them on a well-chaperoned trip through the neighborhood, allowing the kids to “trick or treat as they parade their Bible outfits. (Consider advance notice to familiar neighbors that your kids will be collecting food for the hungry for Thanksgiving.) That trick-or-treating is no longer the safe exercise it used to be is a sign of the times, a sign of Satan coming down with great fury, knowing he has but a short time. It’s all the more time for the people of God to overcome by the Word of our testimony.
Let’s stop cursing the darkness and light a candle. This could become such a powerful time of celebrating the great things the Lord has done, victories that He’s wrought, healings that have taken place in the past year. Let’s start a crusade to redeem as much as we can of Hallowe’en.
Copyright © 1998, 2010 by Jack W. Hayford, Jack Hayford Ministries
As always, you are invited to share your thoughts in the comment section.