Friday, November 1, 2013
Exorcising The Law For Halloween
Halloween is one of those days where fellow Christians unleash
a stampede of 'do's' and 'do nots' on the body of Christ. "Do not
watch scary movies. Do not dress up as a zombie", and on it goes.
But like Second Temple Judaism this practice builds a comfortable
cushion between us and God's Law, what God actually commanded
on the stone tablets given to Moses and by extension in His Word
handed down to us by the Old Testament prophets and New Testament
apostles. That word spoken by God in the midst of fire and thunder raging
from Mt. Sinai struck down the Israelites with fear and reverence for
His presence. But some prefer to avoid Mt. Sinai, choosing the
safer road back to Egypt. In its goal to self-justify, the old Adam likes
to make the law doable, to soften (or dare I say exorcise) the hammer blow God's Law perpetrates on the human heart wracked by sin and spiritual death.
To earn brownie points with God, some Christians substitute one
tick box for another much more desirable so they can look down
on their 'unholy' neighbours, wagging the finger at the Halloween
festivities, whilst standing proud on their shallow self-righteousness.
The way of the Pharisee avoids the theology of the cross and is busy
making towers of Babel to reach to God, including new laws which God never commanded but which sound much more holy to our ears trained to listen
to the elemental and ascetic ways of false religion. Much of the taboos surrounding Halloween fall into this practice, and have the unfortunate
effect of missing God's inexhaustible grace in Christ Jesus.
Sidestepping the intended effect of God's Law, to exorcise self-righteousness and drive us to the cross, Christians create their own religious system still under the blessings and curses of the law. "If I do this, God will bless me. If I do that, God will break my legs." Such thoughts run contrary to what many churches will hear and celebrate on Reformation Day, that our Father in Heaven is pleased with us, not due to our works, but because of Christ's alien righteousness given to us as a free gift covering a multitude of sins, and stirring us to live freely in heartfelt obedience to our Lord. Not following man-made laws which would submit us again to a yoke of slavery but living according to what God actually has said in the power of the Holy Spirit who alone can mould and change our sin-infected hearts.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.