where would Jesus spend his time on halloween?

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

October 31, 2011

trick-or-treat

The perspectives in the church on Halloween are pretty extreme. Most Christians either love it, hate it, or create a Christian-alternative for it (which is sort-of celebrating it without saying you’re celebrating it). I realize that merely talking about Halloween in this post may not make some people very happy.

Regardless of your position on Halloween, this is an important question.

My wife asked me this question a couple of days ago, and it’s been swirling in my mind ever since. She asked me where I thought Jesus would be on Halloween night if he were here with us right now.

The way I see it, there are three likely places that he might be…

  1. He’d separate himself from the rest of the world by hanging out at a Halloween-alternative “Fall Festival” at somebody’s church. After all, it’s important that he avoid any appearance of fellowshiping with darkness (Ephesians 5:11).
  2. He’d be walking the streets of some neighborhood talking with the people. After all, there’s no other day of the year when there are more people outside their houses walking and talking to each other than this night, and he wouldn’t miss a chance to engage with people like this.
  3. He’d be hanging out having dinner with some church leaders (much like he did with the Pharisees of his day), rebuking them for missing such a great opportunity to get out on the streets to engage their neighbors and be a light in their communities.

What do you think? Are there other places that you’d add to this list?

I know some will call me a heretic just for asking this question, or for what my responses may indicate about how I feel about it. But I think how we answer this question not only tells us what we think about the holiday, but also what we think about the church’s place in the world…

I do know that throughout history, the church engaged in pagan celebrations and holiday practices either as an opportunity to reach people, or to avoid persecution. In fact, the church may be more responsible for the tradition of Halloween than anyone else, especially as it relates to fascination with the dead (because of All Saints Day and All Souls Day).

Okay, let me have it… what do you think?

24 Comments

  1. Stacy

    Ha! I like your Christian alternative-celebrating it without saying we’re celebrating it!  So true.  And Jesus delighted in the children.  Don’t you think he’d be giving out some candy as he walked amongst them?

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      that’s a great point! i love the idea of Jesus handing out candy to the kids as He walks the street… i imagine that they would all be flocking around Him everywhere He went, laughing and having fun…

      Reply
  2. Julie

    C.S. Lewis writes that, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one –
    the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without
    milestones, without signposts.”As for me and My house we will serve the Lord.Tonight we will be at Church worshiping our God. This is a very black and white issue, and so we will abstain from all appearances of evil. Selah

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I get the slippery slope stuff. I really do. But…

      I went to a pumpkin carving party this weekend, and it was awesome. The host of the party was a local pastor and his wife. And it seemed like there were more non-Christians there than Christians. I could also sense the Spirit of God there. There was no fellowshiping with darkness, and I saw several people draw closer to God than the were before. There was no appearance of evil, only Christians loving on people.

      I also claim that “as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” And I feel like we represented and served him well through all of this… hence my question about what the right thing to do is…

      Reply
  3. cjrogo3

    we re-evaluated this year. we have always taken a 1oo% non paticipatory stance.( i also think that the alternatives are celebrating with out saying it and don’t care for those) this year we won’t be trick or treating but we will be outside hanging out in our driveway interacting with our neighborhood and passing out candy. i just have such a strong caution simply because of the origins and what this night so strongly represents. i totally get where your coming from ~ most christians however don’t operate in that understanding and even more sadly alot don’t even consider the issue at all. that makes me sad. i think that discussion like this is awesome and i am so glad u put this sorta stuff out there. our family won’t be participating in the traditions but we have some amazing friends that will be ~ it’s so important to not let things like this divide, each family should carefully pray and consider what position they will take.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      i really appreciate the statement that we should not let things like this divide us (the church)… which is why it bothers me when i see such strong and judgmental statements against people who decide that they are okay with doing something.

      and regarding the origins… i’ve seen more stuff lately about how the origins of the holiday are more rooted in the church that what most people think. but the church doesn’t talk about that side of it… i wonder why.

      Reply
  4. Mustang Mary

    Definitely number 2 for us.  Out with the people engaging with them.  The people I want to reach are out there!

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      agreed! it seems like it’s a perfect excuse to hang out with and talk to people who intentionally come out of their house to visit their neighbors…

      Reply
  5. HereIsWisdom

     Thanks for your insight! As a child I blindly excepted the teaching of my parents and the church they attended. As I started searching the word I found many verses that challanged that thinking. Like; “let your light shine, and go into all the world and preach”. What are we afraid of? If our gospel is hid it is hid from those that are lost. Tonight I will be outside meeting my neighbor and be a light. Fact: 80% of people change through relationships. God in me is bigger then he that is in the world. Tonight we take advancement for the kingdom. 

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      “Fact: 80% of people change through relationships. God in me is bigger then he that is in the world. Tonight we take advancement for the kingdom.” I loved this part of what you said… #fistbump

      Reply
  6. DK

    I think we have a duty to call out our friends, amazing or not,on the traditions of this day. I have changed my stance on this over the years and as hard as it has been for my children (ages 9 and 8) every year at public school to explain to their friends why they don’t dress up or trick or treat, they truly understand WHY they don’t participate and share those reasons with their friends (saved and not saved). Interestingly enough most of their friends are interested in why and there are always a few kids in their classes that beleive the way we do. As for alternatives…. I hate them, although i have helped to run them in the past. I think we should truly be the light in this world and changing the games, movies and deleting the costumes doesnt make us that different from the world and i think we are teaching our kids that compromise is ok….But …..compromise is NOT ok when it comes to who the Lord our God is and what He represents. One of the two things I admire about the Jehovah Witness religion is that they stick to their convictions…..they don’t celebrate holidays and they don’t create alternatives for them, and number two ….they are REQUIRED by their leaders to go and preach their faith to others…( that second one requires i get a whole different soapbox!!!!) So to answer your question…I think that the Lord would be spending time in the Garden asking for forgiveness for us for knowing not what we do……

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I respect your convictions, and agree that the JWs typically display MUCH more commitment to spiritual practices than that of most Christians… definitely something that we could learn from.

      Reply
      • Andy Carlson

        I would expand that to say the Jews, the Muslims, the Catholics, the Mormons each stick to their beliefs and convictions…and don’t mind making them public…we, tend to stay in the closet…..there ought to be more talk in the church….where other’s tend to be civil in their statements and belief sharing of what their beliefs and positions are……we tend to be secretive, confrontational and judgmental and dictatorial…telling other what they should believe…(the turn or burn mentality of conversation)….stands to reason that others now overlook or marginalize us.

        Reply
  7. Kingschild7

    I think that if we really want to reach people we don’t need Halloween to do it. There are 364 other days of the year when we can effectively reach out.  Most of us just don’t really try. There is no reason why we can’t visit our neighbors, talk to our co-workers, etc. on a regular basis. So, I think being out “engaging” neighbors and passing out Halloween candy is also “sort-of celebrating it without saying you’re celebrating it”.  Don’t forget that Jesus did much of his ministry inside the temple and out in the open areas.  He might go out and talk to the people on Halloween night, probably would, yet I don’t believe he’d be passing out candy, dressing up or giving a wink or nod to those actively participating in something evil that we now call holy (holi – day).   

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I get what you’re saying, but this is one of the distinctions that I struggle with… Tonight, our family went over to ‘grandma and grandpa’s’ house, but got a visit from a trick-or-treater at our house before we left. It was the cutest little girl, probably 7 years old, dressed up as a little princess. I can’t imagine looking at that little girl and telling her that she won’t get any candy from me because she’s doing something evil…

      Besides, I’ve been learning much more about the church-based roots of Halloween… pretty interesting when you consider that one of the biggest reasons for the holiday even being in existence at all is motivated by evangelism….

      Reply
  8. Jennifer@GDWJ

    I know where Jesus was tonight. He was trick-or-treating with me, Laura Ingalls and Cinderella. He goes with us … everywhere. Because His Spirit lives IN us. 🙂 

    I respect people’s decisions to celebrate with non-costume events, but I have no problem with knocking on the doors of our neighbors and enjoying this beautiful night under the street lights. (Now … where’s my Snickers?)

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      Amen… and I’m down with the Snickers too. And my second favorite moment of the evening was when my niece (dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz) walked over to me and handed me a box of Dots because she heard they I really liked them.

      My favorite moment? When my son told me that candy was pretty much his second favorite thing. I asked if video games was his #1 favorite, and he told me that “no, that’s #3… #1 is God.” Conversations like that with my son are my #1.

      Reply
  9. Hannah Maul Roberts

    Holidays are what you make of them and where you put the emphasis. It’s more important to evaluate how Jesus is living in you and if others can see that…Truth- Jesus is in all the places most Christians wouldn’t want to step one foot in! He was constantly criticized for the company he kept and the things he involved himself in….if you’re doing the criticizing…your probably not the one actually acting like Jesus!

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      You make me think about how I just heard that one local church has been doing ministry with some local strip clubs… and after sowing into them for several months, they just got it set up to live stream their services into the girl’s dressing room… because THEY ASKED for it! 

      You are absolutely right when you say that Jesus is in the places most Christians won’t step in. If he can be in the strip clubs, it’s certainly possible that he is walking the streets of our neighborhoods with all of the little children.

      Reply
  10. Pat

    I can’t help but think of a song I
    sang in Sunday school all the time.  The hand
    motions were a lot of fun. Here’s a few of the lines.

    This little light of mine/I’m gonna
    let it shine

    Everywhere I go/I’m gonna let it
    shine

    Hide it under a bushel Oh no!/I’m
    going to let it shine

    Jesus gave it to me/I’m gonna let it
    shine

    Don’t let the Devil *fooh!* it out/I’m
    going to let it shine

    Let it Shine/All the time/Let it
    shine/Oh yeah!

    As Christians we should be spreading
    the light and building relationships. What a great opportunity to pray over our
    community and our neighbors. I guess some feel it is more holy if prayer was
    performed at a church pew instead or hiding out in a rather dimly lit home so
    we are not bothered by the pagans.  Aren’t
    we all God’s children and made in his image?

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I just have to say that you sharing this song here right now made me smile… and thank you for getting this song stuck in my head!

      Reply
  11. Gerbiga

    I love the post Dan!  I think that Jesus would be wherever the sinners are.  I don’t think He would be participating in the the activity but He would be among the crowd taking the opportunity to preach the Kingdom of Heaven!

    Reply
    • Gerbiga

      When I ask Ashley where she thought Jesus would be on halloween, she said that halloween would be banished if He was here today!

      Reply
  12. Diana Trautwein

    Right on,Dan. BIG fist bump! We do not have to buy into the darkness part of Halloween and we can still celebrate this amazing opportunity to be hospitable and welcoming. And heck yes, Jesus would be handing out candy and greeting the kiddoes with the clever, fun costumes. Yes, there are too many scary, bloody costumes out there and that is sad – but the day itself can be a way into conversations and an opportunity to meet your neighbors. 

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

where would Jesus spend his time on halloween?

by Dan King time to read: 2 min
24