Why My Kids Might Go Trick-or-Treating, & Why They Might Not

Matt Swaney —  October 31, 2012 — 2 Comments
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the seriesShould Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween CandyCan Halloween, in some contexts, be something that prevents us from building relationships with people? Yes. In other contexts, can it be something that actually helps us build relationships with people? Yes. It seems inconsistent to say both options are okay but I think it is because sometimes we are motivated by the wrong mission. Halloween (along with everything else in our lives) should be evaluated based on what advances the gospel the best.

Creating policies like saying, “no” to Halloween or saying, “yes” to Halloween for different reasons falls short of the question we should be asking, namely, how does this advance the gospel? The mission is not purity (stay away from Halloween). And the mission is not enjoying our freedom in Christ (eating candy and dressing up).

Halloween, drinking, eating and whether or not to coach my children’s soccer teams are all missional questions. The reason you are where you are is because God is doing something with you. Our freedom is for the purpose of being a missionary.

We are God’s people who represent him to others (Gen.12:1-3; Matt. 28:16-20). The mission is not purity or enjoying the freedom we have in Christ but sharing the gospel with people, real people. This is why our freedom in Christ makes such great missionaries!

Paul makes this point when he says he has become “all things to all men for the sake of the gospel” (I Cor. 9:19-23). He wants to build bridges with people for the gospel’s sake and sometimes that might mean doing things that restrict the freedom we have in Christ or taking advantage of the freedom for the sake of the gospel.

Jesus was accused of being an alcoholic and a glutton because he was building relationships with people. He didn’t avoid them to stay “pure.” Paul was accused of being inconsistent in his behavior because sometimes he followed Jewish customs and sometimes he didn’t. Paul’s ultimate concern was not that he would be consistent in his behavior but that he would be consistent about sharing the gospel. The mission determined his behavior.  If the people were going to stumble over something it was going to be the cross, not some outward behavior.

Poor question:  How can I keep myself pure? Or what can I do now that I am free in Christ?

Missional Question:  What can I do that can help me build a relationship with certain people to be the good news to them?

 

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Matt Swaney

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Husband, Dad, Adjunct Faculty at Eternity Bible College, Missionary to Long Beach, CA.
  • John Deary

    Yes we are all misIsional minded. We are either ‘going’ or ‘sending’ either way the mission is on the mind of the believer. The mission is the culmination of God’s initial promise to Abraham, to be a blessing to the nations. Yes we are blessed by God, but it is so that we may be a blessing to the nations (or those around us).

    I really enjoy Matt’s perspective on keeping the gospel central to the theme. Many people do not understand their identity as sons or daughters in the kingdom of God, and are afraid their identity will rest, in this case, as a trick-or-treater. If we go at all things with the purpose of advancing the gospel, i think we have a good understanding of the gospel. But there arises another question.

    What is my purpose if my purpose is not to advance the gospel?

    I know for me, I am not always missional minded. But I have to agree with Matt, that the question of the matter is not whether it is right or wrong, but how can the kingdom be advanced? How can God get glory through this?

    All things are permissable but not all things are profitable. – Paul

    Personally I hate haunted houses. I do not enjoy being afraid. I dont think blood, guts, and gore is good for my own soul. But I also loooooove candy.

    Ask the Lord. The answer may be, and normally is, situational and specific to each individual. Stay true to your convictions and be overjoyed by Him.

    -John Deary

  • Randy Drake

    Great post! I think this really gets to the heart of the issue. It definitely rings true with what God has placed on my heart. I know you (Matt Swaney) feel the same and are called to think in terms of mission. So, here is my question:

    Is everyone called to be missional-minded as top priority?
    Are some of us called to other focuses?