Most Christians are a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. That includes me.
Thankfully, when Jesus rescues us, we experience the mercy and grace of God in our lives, and it changes us. Sometimes, however, the redeemed become the rude, and we slip into harsh self-righteousness all too easily.
I know because I wrestle with spiritual arrogance too. As mean and ugly as it may be, I still sometimes want to crush others who don’t see things my way. But the longer I live, the more I realize how my desire to “call fire down from heaven” is not at all like Jesus.
Our church hosted a Halloween party for our community. Yes, we called it a Halloween party rather than a Harvest party or a Hallelujah party. Yes, I know this pushes a lot of buttons for some Christians. Yes, I got a couple of very nasty emails from Christians who were very upset. And yes—to add insult to injury for some very holy people—I dressed up as Santa Claus for Halloween.
Let me explain a few things:
- This was an outreach event geared to getting people into our building. We’ve found that if a person gets past the fear barrier of entering into a “Church,” they are more willing to come back. (Assuming they are welcomed and treated well.) That’s why I dressed as Santa Claus and handed out Christmas Eve invites!
- The unchurched people we’re trying to reach in our community call it Halloween, and a lot of non-Christians think Christians are weird to be weird about it.
- As a church, we’re trying hard to build bridges rather than barriers to the lost in our area. So, as the lead pastor, I will always encourage our community of faith to do anything we can to reach our city.
For the record, a guy named Paul would be excited about what we did! He once wrote, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV)
Paul was so committed to reaching people who were far from God that he adapted to the culture to do so.
I am well aware that witchcraft is evil and sinful. I recently read that Wicca is growing, and there are more practicing witches in America than mainline Presbyterians. Tragic, I know.
But no Eastpointer was casting spells or sacrificing the animals from the petting zoo. We didn’t become our culture or compromise our morals. We simply sought to reach others as Paul did, and as Jesus did when He became a “friend of sinners.”
But wait, there’s more!
In about a month or so, I’ll have a marquee in front of our building that will invite people to our Christmas Eve services. Due to size limitations, it will read, “Xmas Eve Services.” And every year, I get some emails from Christians who rip us to shreds for “taking Christ out of Christmas.”
We’ve done no such thing. (You can read a detailed post here that explains why Xmas is fine.)
My point in all of this?
The unchurched and unsaved people we’re trying to reach as a church never complain to me about Halloween, Santa Claus, or Xmas. Never.
They don’t care, and they often shake their heads in contempt of Christians who seem to rant and rave about nothing. I think that breaks the heart of Jesus.
Frankly, it was the Pharisees who got mad at Jesus, and it might be the modern-day Pharisees who get upset with us.
Please hear my heart; I’m not trying to be offensive or divisive. If you have strong convictions, by all means—obey what you believe God wants from you.
But please be careful to be kind.
Please remember all Christians are called to reach our world.
Please give grace to those (like me) who might be wrong, but who are doing their best to be relational to a world desperately in need of some good news.
And please be like Jesus.
Jesus said, “I came to search for, seek out, find,
and give eternal life to those who are broken and lost.”
Luke 19:10. (Bubna Paraphrase)