The Halloween We Can’t Escape: biblical truth found in a dark holiday

Halloween is spooky. It’s ghouls and goblins, ghosts and skeletons, witches and black cats. Many view it as just a fun time to dress up and get candy, and many view it as an offensive holiday. But whatever our personal convictions are about Halloween, or how we chose to present it to our children, Halloween can be a reminder of certain biblical truths.

Halloween reminds us that life is dark, evil exists, and death is real. Most of us prefer the joy of the Christmas season, the gratefulness of Thanksgiving, or the victory of Easter. We quickly bypass, ignore, or deny the realities that Halloween presents to us. Good Friday comes before Easter though, and Good Friday proves that the spiritual realities of Halloween exist. Why else did we need a savior to face the dark evil for us?

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The Seesaw of the Christian Sub-Culture

A seesaw can never be equally balanced on its own. You either go up or down in relation to the weight on the other end. The only way for a seesaw to stay balanced is for a person to hold one end and sustain the full weight. Likewise, the Christian subculture is on a constant seesaw. We go high on one end and then realize we can’t get down. Sometimes we plummet to the bottom to realize we are stuck. Now how do we get back up?

Whether it’s the dating world, roles in marriage, how-to parenting articles, views of sin and grace, or entertainment choices, it’s hard for Christians to keep things in balance. Facebook feeds put this seesaw effect on full display with an all-in or out approach to current issues facing the world and the Church.

Lots of Sin Talk

I grew up in a church where sin was talked about a lot. Repenting of sin and seeking help and change are vitally important to the Christian life. God commands us to be holy as he is holy. Paul talks about not continuing in sin just because we are saved by grace (Romans 6:1-4.) Jesus spared an adulterous woman from punishment who, by the law, deserved to be stoned. Jesus didn’t condemn her, but he did tell her to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11.)

The problem with making just sin the central focus of our Christianity is being stuck at the bottom of the seesaw. We end up seeing no way up. All the confrontation and change seeking can wear you down after awhile. There ends up being no hope and no seeming way of escape. This hyper focus on our sin can lead to legalism, doubt, depression, and just plain unloving thoughts and attitudes toward others.

So, how can we get some leverage here? Well, we don’t want to put too hard a weight on the other side either, then we’ll be up too high with no way down.

The Other Side of the Seesaw

I’ve seen another camp of Christians overcompensate for this strong view of sin by only talking about the love of Jesus in a way that is too permissive of real sin. This camp of followers tend to view Jesus as their boyfriend, their feel-good therapist, or an anti-depressant pill. Talking about Jesus’ love and grace without confronting sin is their happy mirage that makes them feel good about themselves. This can lend itself to licentiousness, apathy, and lethargy in our real and biblically defended battle against sin.

Finding the Balance

How can we stay in balance then? It seems like an impossible feat. It’s possible when we look to the one who holds the seesaw and makes it level for us. Jesus lives the balance; he declared perfect balance at the cross. There was perfect justice by taking our place as the sacrifice for sin needed to satisfy the holy wrath of God. God hates our sin and loves his holiness. No place tells us we are a great sinner better than the cross. This was the ultimate confrontation.

Yet, justice was balanced by perfect grace, love, and mercy. We didn’t deserve what Jesus did, which makes his costly grace that much more amazing. We were not worth the sacrifice, but God sacrificed his son because he is the worthy one. Worthy of all praise and devotion for displaying the perfect balance towards us. God showed anger and wrath against our sin, but didn’t kill us for it as needed, instead he threw the blame on himself out of love and mercy to afford us his grace.

We Need Both Sides

We can’t fully appreciate and understand God’s love apart from his wrath against sin. Likewise, we can’t fully hate and fight our sin until we see the power of God’s costly grace at work in us. Gazing at the beautifully worthy grace of Christ in the midst of our sinful unworthiness is what should spur us onto a life of godliness. He loves us in spite of our sin, because his wrath has been satisfied through Christ’s death. His kindness at the cross leads us to a life of repentance and faith.

Focus in Balance

We find ourselves out of balance when we focus on ourselves too much. We can hang low on the seesaw and get bogged down with looking at our sin, but we are still self-focused at the top when we use God’s love as a way to gratify ourselves. We make the cross about us when it is really about God. The cross is the focal point of God’s revelation of himself to us. We gain a proper understanding of ourselves when we understand who God is at the foot of the cross. Our eyes need to be focused on the one holding the seesaw for us. We need to ask him for help when we get out of balance. Because of the cross he can give us the sustaining help we need to fight sin in light of his grace and love for us. God is perfectly balanced in all of his attributes, let’s avail him of help to do the same.