Reflection on the Devil’s Holiday

The Devil is sneaky. He is crafty. Most of his lies come to us with some truth embedded in them. Outrageous lies such as, “Jesus is not God” are easily spotted by Christians. But lies that come to us with some truth, like, “Jesus is God and did die for you (truth), but you need to add a little something to complete your salvation (false)” are not as easy to spot and reject all the time. They are more persuasive.

That makes me wonder, is the Devil really dumb enough to say, “I know how we can get the world! Have them dress up like demons and such and go ask for candy!”? Did he create halloween (as many Christians make it seem he did) so that on one night of the year millions of Christians will fall into demon worship?

Maybe. I don’t know the history of Halloween and I know some wicked stuff goes down on the holiday (much like…every day of the year). But maybe Satan is smarter than that.

Maybe Satan’s strategy on halloween is much more crafty. Maybe what seems to be obviously Satan, isn’t. Maybe his strategy is to get Christians so scared of Halloween, so against it, that the one day of the year everyone is knocking on our doors, we are not home, busying partying at our church event we might have started to protect ourselves. Maybe he wants us to huddle up at a fall festival, so that the one day of the year the world is knocking on our doors, we decided to peace out, and hang out with each other, and “protect” our kids. Maybe Satan is so crafty, he has figured out a way to keep us from realizing what a great opportunity we have every Oct. 31st; an opportunity to meet our neighbors and make memories for kids as they receive free, unearned, undeserved gifts (kind of like our salvation).

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do fall festivals, etc. I don’t care to talk about that and no one cares what my opinion is. But I am saying let’s toughen up, stop acting so scared of a 4 year old in a demon costume, give the kid some skittles, meet his parents who put him in the demon costume in the first place, and send them on their merry way. Let’s be for our neighbors and neighborhoods. This is a much happier life, making much of Jesus by engaging with our community. It’s good for us and glorifying to God.

I did not do anything last night, not because I think Halloween is evil. I’m just admitting I didn’t. But I’m looking forward to next year already.

Boo.

Depth vs. Width

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I have often either personally thought, or heard, that “going deep” in the Christian life is not fairly compatible with “going wide.” I have thought of, or heard of those two aspects, if you will, to be about as compatible as an introvert who views Friday night as a time to read, write, and ponder is to an extrovert who is not totally sure what a book is, hates to right, and does the deepest pondering when there is more than one party to choose from.

By going deep (though people can mean a host of things by that), I mean personal growth. Personal growth, in my experience in the south, usually has to do with learning theology, growing in Christ-like character, and becoming more spiritually disciplined. By going wide (though people can mean a host of things by that), I mean introducing others to Jesus, or making disciples.

What I rarely hear from Christians, including myself in much of my walk with Jesus, is a demand to go deeper by going on mission; to grow deep, by going wide. Rarely have I heard people say that an essential part of personal growth (going deep) is growth in making disciples (going wide).

But do we not see disciple making as a sweeping aspect of the life of Jesus? Jesus was always on mission. Jesus’ character moved him to make disciples not only of his close community in the gospels, but of billions more throughout history. To say growth in Christ-like character is separate from growth in disciple making simply does not make sense. If we are becoming more like Jesus, we are becoming more like the greatest disciple maker that exists.

Not only that, but being on mission is actually a greater catalyst towards personal growth than not. Being on mission only increases your awareness of how much you need to grow. Here are just five areas of growth that mission demands:

Theological: If you want to be able to explain the Bible to non-Christians with greater clarity and ease, you will want to grow theologically.

Dependence on the Spirit: In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers disciple making. When you are afraid of sharing the gospel, you must rely on the Spirit. When you don’t know what to say, you must rely on the Spirit. When you feel like someone will never trust Jesus, you must rely on the Spirit.

Community: No one wants to go out on mission alone. Being on mission will compel you to be in closer friendship with other Christians.

Character: You are a witness to the gospel with your life and lips. You speak the gospel from a life of following Jesus, and non-Christians are watching. Speaking the gospel demands you live a life that backs up what you are saying.

Understanding and Trusting God’s Sovereignty: How does anyone actually become a Christian? How can you have hope for a non-Christian friend? Being on mission may stir in you the desire to learn more about the sovereignty of God in personal salvation.

Going deep and going wide are not incompatible. They work together. As you grow in your relationship with Jesus, you will be more compelled to introduce others to him. The more you seek to introduce others to Jesus, the more you will seek him, grow in his image, and love him.