by John Ellis
Tomorrow is October 31, generally called either Halloween or Reformation Day. And, sadly, it’s one of the more divisive days of the year among followers of Jesus. Many have entrenched positions about the day over which they are willing to do battle on social media. Guilt is heaped. Eyes are rolled. Minor fallacies are flung near and far. Egos are bruised. On both sides, self-righteousness threatens to raise its ugly, unfruitful, and divisive head.
Hopefully, and only by God’s grace, whatever cracks suffered in relationships between fellow Believers, especially those who are members of the same local church, will be healed and restored by the time Sunday rolls around. Lord willing, my church will celebrate Communion this coming Lord’s Day. My desire and prayer is that none of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have covenanted in church membership with me will have to abstain from the Meal over broken relationships due to arguments about October 31. The day is not worth it.
Don’t misunderstand, my wife and I are fully persuaded before God that our position is good and right. Likewise, our senior pastor, who holds to a different position is firmly persuaded, too. He and his wife will make decisions regarding tomorrow in full faith before God that are different than the decisions that my wife and I will make. And neither today nor tomorrow nor any other day of the year will we attempt to persuade the other that their position is wrong.
Steering into another potentially divisive topic, if you are looking for a verse to tattoo somewhere on your body, I recommend John 13:34-35. Revealing one his heart’s greatest desires for his followers, Jesus says in those verses, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I somewhat tongue-in-cheek recommend getting a tattoo of those verses because those words of Jesus should be a rubric through which we evaluate our actions and reactions to other Believers. In other words, I encourage all of us to ask, “Am I posting this article in defense of my position about October 31 to edify and encourage my brothers in sisters in Christ? Or, am I posting it because I want to prove that I’m right and they’re wrong?”
No doubt, if we’re being honest, we rarely share articles defending things like how we choose to view and celebrate October 31 with the goal of edifying and encouraging.
There are issues that I will not shy away from publicly justifying. By God’s grace, I strive to do so with humility and love. But there are issues – the gospel of Jesus Christ, for example – that I will risk offending others over. I mean, the Apostle Paul said that the world will be offended by the preaching of Christ crucified. However, my position about October 31 is not an issue worth justifying before others in formats that beg for misunderstanding and hurt feelings.
None of this is to say that it’s inappropriate to have face-to-face discussions about October 31. Although, to be frank, I personally don’t feel any strong compulsion to have that discussion with those who disagree with me. I’m not concerned that people agree with me over trick-or-treating or not trick-or-treating. In the main, and assuming that the person is convinced in his or her own mind in full faith before God, it’s simply not an important enough issue to risk disunity over.
In conclusion, brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to enjoy tomorrow however you believe it is appropriate to enjoy it. In doing so, resist the urge to share articles and make comments intended to demonstrate that your position is correct and the opposite position is incorrect. October 31 is not worth arguing over.
Soli Deo Gloria