If Halloween is a celebration, then what are we celebrating? Judging by the cute skeletons, goblins, ghosts and grave-yard symbols on our doors, windows and walls, it’s fear and death. Maybe it’s our attempt to laugh at death. Perhaps it rose out of the homage we pay to death with winter looming near.
Either way, millions of Halloween celebrants will be looking for ways to scare and be scared—all in fun. They will decorate their homes and bodies with symbols of fear and death. Some will send their children into the streets in disguises to threaten neighbors with a “trick” if they refuse to offer up a “treat.” Again, it’s all in fun.
I support fun. I also support facing our fears head on. We should do this every day of the year, not just October 31. And the pursuit of fun should not stop us.
The Bible recognizes fear as a prominent feature of faith. The Psalmist sings:
- “Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” (Psalm 2:11).
- “Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him.” (Psalm 85:9)
- “The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble.” (Psalm 99:1).
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Ps 111:10)
Jesus recognized a healthy kind of fear. He taught, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28).
So, God’s word faces fear head on. It affirms faith-filled fear and blasts faithless fear to kingdom come. The phrase, “fear not” pervades its pages. King David prayed, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 17:1).
Old hymns, written in tougher times, are good at turning fear into faith. In 1887, Jesse Brown Pounds wrote:
“Anywhere with Jesus I can go to sleep,
When the dark’ning shadows round abut me creep,
Knowing I shall waken never more to roam,
Anywhere with Jesus will be home sweet home.”
It was Jesus who faced death fearlessly and took the sting right out of it. Because of the cross, Paul could preach, “Death is “swallowed up in victory!” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Paul had the ultimate answer to Halloween:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Fifteen centuries later, Martin Luther echoed that theme in his song, A Mighty Fortress is Our God:
“And though this world with demons filled,
Should threaten to undo us.
We will not fear for God hath willed,
His truth to triumph through us!” (1529)
Here’s a scary thought: Had Jesus bypassed the cross and lived for himself, death would still be in charge, demanding the final word over us all. Fear of the faithless kind would reign and Halloween would be all too real.
By the way, October 31st is also the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses (protests) to the door of the Wittenburg castle church in Germany in 1517. Happy Reformation Day this October 31st.