As a Christian, October 31st can come with a bit of baggage. The Christian community has been inflamed with debate over whether or not Halloween, as we know it today, should be celebrated. In an encouraging article for Christianity Today, author Ed Stetzer offers three reasons why you should, in fact, enjoy the day and go trick or treating.
Highlighting the choice to celebrate the day as one of Christian liberty to be made by each family for themselves, Stetzer points out the origins of the holiday, “some of them Christian, some pagan, and some occult,” which families need to consider when making their choice.
While being considerate to validate common reasons for and against Halloween in Christian arguments, Stetzer explains his family’s decision and why he believes Christians “not only can but should put on their costumes, pass out candy, and greet guests at the door each time Halloween rolls around.”
“First, this is likely the only time all year when neighbors will flock from near and far, ring your doorbell, and want to have face-to-face interaction with you,” Stetzer says. You can leave a lasting impression on your neighbors and sow seeds in Christ by being intentional with this “once-a-year opportunity to do something so simple, yet so critical: get to know your neighbors.”
Next, Stetzer makes it clear that no Christian is expected to forsake their faith or “confess allegiance to pagan deities” when they celebrate Halloween. We can approach the holiday with reasonable caution and ask ourselves of things such as costumes, “Does this item symbolize or support an ideology that’s incompatible with my faith? Does it represent my love for Jesus and the commitment I’ve made to follow him?” If your answer is no, rest assured you are not being legalistic in dropping that item from your Halloween festivities.
Third, Stetzer emphasizes the importance of having a “missional Halloween”. “…Most importantly, start relationships you will follow over the winter. On Halloween, do what we do: invite some neighbors over in November and December.”
Stetzer concludes, “…Christians needn’t be so scared about how to handle Halloween. Like all things in this world, it’s about learning to separate the wheat from the chaff—the worthy from the worthless.”
“God is at work in our individual lives, but also in our communities. If Halloween is an opportunity to engage in this work and learn to love our neighbors better, I believe we should take it—costumes, candy, and all!”
Mainline media outlets have been conspicuously silent about overt threats to the State of Israel. Together, let’s understand why these recent threats are relevant and should be troubling for Americans and especially those who follow Christ.
As you may know, when Israel became a nation again in 1948, a land dispute erupted. To this day, Israelis and Palestinians claim a right to the same land.
For years, conflict resolution strategies have boiled down to how or whether to divide the land between these two peoples. The last peace talks broke down in 2014.
There is talk that President Trump is close to unveiling an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. While some dismiss the notion, a senior U.S. official told the Times of Israel the U.S. is engaged in “productive dialogue with all relevant parties about an enduring peace deal.”
Why should you pay attention to threats against Israel?
Here are four reasons:
1 – Hamas doesn’t want peace with Israel; it wants genocide.
While versions of the “two-state solution” proposed by various world leaders throughout the years would allow Palestine and Israel to live side-by-side as independent nations, Hamas isn’t interested. According to its 1988 charter, Hamas plans to “obliterate” Israel and raise the “banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” In truth, Hamas wants Jewish genocide.
2 – Christians are indebted to Jews for their spiritual heritage.
The apostle Paul taught that, since Gentile Christians share in the Jewish spiritual blessings, they should also be of service to the Jews (Romans 15:27). The Jews laid the foundation of our faith, giving us the Old Testament, our Messiah, the prophets, and apostles. Without a doubt, Christians should demonstrate concern for the Jewish people as well as the land where Jesus lived and will return (Zechariah 14:4).
3 – Anti-Semitism is rising, and Christians need to think counter-culturally.
Charlottesville was proof that anti-Semitism is rising in the United States. As Jonathan Millerwarned back in 2012, Hamas would like nothing more than to win the hearts and minds of Americans: “If they can provoke Israel to unintentionally kill enough innocent Palestinian civilians — and effectively use the media to paint themselves as the heroic blood-stained victim — then perhaps enough liberals will join in their efforts to wipe the Jewish State off the map.”
4 – Hamas is nurturing an alliance with Iran.
Collaboration between Hamas and Iran is concerning because, just last June, Iranian protesters took to the streets chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”Furthermore, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once warned the United Nations, a nuclear-armed Iran would pose the “gravest threat to us all.”
So, What Do We Do?
First, the Bible commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Since both Palestinian Arabs and Jews claim Jerusalem as their capital, now is the time to take that verse seriously. (God loves both peoples. The Palestinians and Israelis each deserve a homeland of their own that is secure.)
Second, record-numbers of Muslims are reportedly seeing visions of Jesus and following Him. (Read about it here, here, and here.) Therefore, join me in praying that leaders of Hamas and Iran will see visions of Jesus and follow the Messiah and Prince of Peace.
After all, no person is beyond God’s love and reach. As former enemies of God, followers of Christ are living proof of this truth (Colossians 1:21-22).