I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. For lots of reasons. But with 5 Trick-or-Treating age kids I always find myself helping with costumes and driving around on Halloween night while Hubby tries to find the neighborhood with the best stash of candy. And then there is the candy! Do you know how much candy 5 Trick-or-Treaters can bring home? Once Halloween is over we usually have candy until Christmas…………just in time for the onslaught of holiday goodies. Mercy!
I always say I’m going to throw away Halloween candy while the kids are sleeping. Better for their teeth (and my pocket-book). Better for my own waist line. Halloween candy seems to go on and on and on.
Last week Hubby and I were at a conference. Halloween had just passed and we left the kids with a sitter and their candy while we went away overnight to a scheduled event. As we arrived, Hubby joked, “This is adult Halloween. Nobody knows us. We’re dressed up. We can be whoever we want. What persona do we want to be?” And I responded, “Don’t most of us Christians pretend to be something we’re not almost every day? Especially Sunday?”
Ok y’all, he knew I didn’t have a sugar-coated tongue when he married me. He knew it was sharp. I don’t want my tongue to be unkind, but I do want it to be truthful. I’m trying to live out James 1:26: “26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” It’s hard some days. Really hard. But I also know that Christ would call things as He saw it. His hardest words weren’t for the lost. He extended lots of grace to them and restored their dignity and life. His hardest words were to the religious. Those who seemed to have forgotten that it is God’s righteousness that is the standard and not their own self-righteous acts.
What would we do without God’s grace? Even with it, are we not all sinners who have to call on His mercies that are new each morning? James tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (1:17) When did we forget? All we have is from His hand. His grace.
We may have a good job or a good home, but most of us are just a pink slip away from losing so very much. And then what are we……..without our good homes and our good jobs? We’re still sinners, SAVED BY GRACE, who have to call on God’s mercies each morning.
Our “good kids” might do something really bad. Something that breaks our heart. What are we then? Our spouses could leave. Our parents get divorced. Friendships could die. What are we then? Sinners SAVED BY GRACE, who have to call on God’s mercies each morning.
We could get a promotion tomorrow. We could get a raise. We could have a windfall. What are we then? Better? More than others? NO! We are still sinners SAVED BY GRACE, who have to call on God’s mercies each morning.
Then why friends? Why do we pretend to be something that we are not? Why does Halloween never end? We dress up, wear our masks and pretend to be somebody else. Not who we really are.
There’s something my daughter with Autism has taught me. As I navigate the world of special needs I find this true for every single person who is limited in some way. My girl is different. But she is never less. Never. She might not be like others, but she is only different and never, ever, ever less. If someone should suggest otherwise……….it won’t be pretty. She won’t allow her to be judged.
Our whole self resists the idea of being judged. So much so, that we live our lives in fear. Fear of what others will think. Of what they will do. It motivates what we wear. How we live. The choices we make. What we buy. We pretend for the benefit of others and then we cast judgment on those who aren’t like us. We do to others what we don’t want done to us. It sounds like middle school. But it’s church.
What would our lives look like if we stopped pretending? If we were just real? It we stopped worrying so much about what others thought to actually admit that we don’t always have it together? That we are broken. That our homes are sometimes a mess. That are relationships are sometimes even messier. That we’re having trouble with our kids. That we are addicted to prescription drugs. That our marriages are in trouble. That we are broke and in debt. That we have been abused. That we are depressed. That we desperately need God’s grace to help us.
Would we actually find the help we need if we just stopped pretending and stopped worrying about the people we pretend for? We are all in need of God’s grace. Who cares what they think? They are just pretending too. And if they look like their life is “all-together” I would dare say they have spent a lot of time on the costume. They are just like us. And at the end of the day, I need God’s grace lots more than I need their approval.
And what if we stood up to the judgment and didn’t tolerate others being judged either? When someone said something about someone else we said, “they may be different from you, but they are not less. Never less.”
Take your masks off friends. Halloween is over. I’m looking toward Christmas. When God Himself came and dwelt among men. He still does. Thank you God! He still does. Don’t be a Halloween Christian. Let God dwell with you. It will change everything.
Cheering you on!
James 4: “. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you…… 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”