Halloween is tomorrow and we’ll be meeting friends and walking around the neighborhood with our kids in costume, collecting candy at the doors of perfect strangers. They will squeal with excitement when they get the “good candy” and trade with each other at the end of the night to get rid of whatever they consider the “bad candy”. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year. I love the whimsy and the fun of it. In fact, I didn’t realize it was controversial until I was well into adulthood. How I missed it is beyond me, but there are some people who disagree with me about allowing children to participate in the festivities of Halloween.
And I hope those people don’t judge me. Because they don’t know me or my reasons for allowing our kids to participate in Halloween traditions and celebrations. They wouldn’t know that I have great childhood memories of Halloween, dressing up in costume and walking around our neighborhood in all sorts of weather from rain to snow, not caring about being cold because we were collecting candy. They wouldn’t know that for years my husband’s family got together on Halloween for dinner at his grandparents’ home, handing out candy together and taking our littles out to meet their neighbors dressed up as Elmo, an elephant, and a cute little pink monster. They wouldn’t know that for me the holiday pressure feels like it’s off. Halloween is absent of family tensions and obligations, meeting expectations of gift-giving or meal-hosting. I don’t get into all the spooky stuff and I hate horror movies, but I believe there’s joy to be found in the holiday. Halloween for me is the final celebration of my favorite season.
And yet, there will be those who feel it’s their duty to inform me of the satanic elements of Halloween, it’s origin, and will shake their heads as we walk around or if they see pictures of our kids in costume. Because it is all the rage to have an opinion, a conviction even, about, well, just about everything. You only need to read through the first three comments on any social media post to understand our culture loves to judge others.
I won’t stand here and pretend I don’t do it too, making snarky remarks about people who don’t agree with me or do things “the way I would do it”.
We all have our own standard by which we measure other people. Anything we see, hear, or read is fair game for our criticism and subject to that personal standard. Jesus warned against passing judgment on others, holding them to our own moral convictions, stating that when we stand before God for the final judgment, He will use our own standard to assess our lives:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”Matthew 7:1-2
It’s always easier to see the defects in others and “know” how to fix them than to turn our gaze inward to see the shadows in our own hearts. But that’s exactly what Jesus is talking about when he said,
“‘Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.’”Matthew 7:3-5
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have convictions or we shouldn’t take a stance against the evil in the world. I’m saying we need to know the heart of other people before we start pointing fingers and making accusations, especially when it boils down to personal convictions.
In Romans 14, Paul warns Christians against judging our brothers and sisters in Christ from our own personal convictions. He writes,
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”Romans 14:4
The only way to know the motivations and convictions of our brothers and sisters is through relationship. We must humble ourselves and enter a vulnerable state in order to know and love other people. It is our divine purpose, what we were created for:
“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”Matthew 22:36-40
In this time of deep division, may we be a people of unity. May we come together as children of the Living God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and love one another well. May we see personal convictions as just that, personal, and extend grace to each other as we all pursue Christ.