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The God of the Living

This week heralds one of the most anticipated holidays for many American individuals. As a matter of fact, according to some metrics Halloween ranks second only to Christmas in terms total retail spending. This makes complete sense when you consider all the elaborate costumes for kids and adults, parties, decorations, haunted theme parks, and even costumes for pets. For most, Halloween has become a fun holiday to dress up, enjoy time together with friends and family, and for kids to stock up on mountains of candy. This is innocuous enough. However, surrounding Halloween are also ghoulish activities, dabbling into the occult and the holiday’s pagan origins, and an eerie fascination with death. The horror film industry has continued exponential growth with new titles coming out yearly that ramp up the gore, violence, suspense, and themes of the demonic. Haunted houses and trails have become over the top with its connection to the predominant horror themes of Halloween culture. Many list horror movies as their favorite movie genre. How does the Christian navigate this holiday?

While trick-or-treating for candy, fall decorating, pumpkin carving, dressing up in cute costumes, and enjoying time with family and friends are perfectly fine, the believer needs to understand that the demonic and ghoulish themes associated with the holiday need to be avoided. What is the scriptural basis for this? Moses under the inspiration of Jehovah instructed the people of Israel, “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable customs of those nations. No one among you is to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a spiritist, or inquire of the dead…the LORD your God is driving out the nations before you because of these detestable acts.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12) Christians should never hold a fascination to activities which God holds to be detestable, an abomination. Many of these acts described in these verses are major themes highlighted and even celebrated in horror movies and some Halloween activities.

This list of detestable acts are abominations of the Lord for one main reason. These practices are connected to a fascination with death. The fear of death is a predominant human impulse. Death is a certainty of the human experience. Halloween, therefore, has become a modern instance and opportunity for our culture to express this fascination and fear. The Christian, however, should never fear death. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Jesus reminds us in John 11:25-26 says, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Disciples of Christ should live and act each day as if they are confident in the truth of the promise and hope of resurrection.

In Matthew 22, the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus by providing a riddle concerning the afterlife. They asked Jesus a hypothetical of a woman who married seven consecutive brothers after each had passed away in accordance with the tradition of Levirate marriage. They asked, “In the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they had all married her?” Jesus responded by emphasizing, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:25-32) What does the Messiah mean by this? Of course, God sustains those who die in Christ Jesus. As the Apostle Paul says, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8) But those who have passed from death into the presence of the Lord are resting from their labors until the Lord Jesus returns. The dead in Christ have finished their ministry and their work. They are realizing the promises of the faith, for they are seeing it with their own eyes in complete fruition. Our God calls His children who are alive on the earth right now to not focus on death, but to focus on LIFE! God has rescued His children from being dead in their trespasses and sins to being ALIVE in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we disciples of Christ are called to focus on living each day on purpose and to speak LIFE into a lost and dying world. The Lord has given all of His children a purpose, a calling, a ministry fueled with the very life-giving power of God in the Holy Spirit!

Yes, the fascination and fear of death is a shared, natural human expression, but it is a worldly emphasis. The believer’s focus has moved from fear to love. We have received eternal life from our creator and are called to share that wonderful gift with those around us. Remember, “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)This Halloween, enjoy the candy, the fun costumes, and time with family and friends, but don’t allow the horror-filled fascination with death, the demonic, and the ghoulish to distract you from the overpowering grandeur of God’s calling into Life in His gospel of love.

-This article was published in the 10/26/2021 edition of the Weakley County Press

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