Categories
Ministry Theology

Thoughts on Mission and Halloween

Here are some perspectives on Halloween from Christians:

On Mission This Halloween – Jeff Vanderstelt

What does a Christian need to know about Halloween? – James Harleman

What are your thoughts on Halloween? – John Piper

Sent into the Harvest: Halloween on Mission – David Mathis

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Life Theology

What Lizard Needs to Be Killed in Your Life?

C.S. Lewis writes about the necessity to kill sin, and the pain that can come with it, in The Great Divorce:

I saw coming toward us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. ‘Shut up, I tell you!’ he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains

‘Of so soon?’ said a voice.

The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

‘Yes. I’m off,’ said the Ghost. ‘Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no god, you see. I told this little chap’ (here he indicated the Lizard) ‘that he’d have to be quiet if he came–which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realise that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.’

‘Would you like me to make him quiet?’ said the flaming Spirit–an angel, as I now understood.

‘Of course I would,’ said the Ghost.

‘Then I will kill him,’ said the Angel, taking a step forward.

‘Oh–ah–look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,’ said the Ghost, retreating.

‘Don’t you want him killed?’

‘You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.’

‘It’s the only way,’ said the angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the Lizard. ‘Shall I kill it?’

‘Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here–well, it’s so damned embarrassing.’

‘May I kill it?’

‘Well, there’s time to discuss that later.’

‘There is no time. May I kill it?’

‘Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please–really–don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.’

‘May I kill it?’

‘Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.’

‘The gradual process is of no use at all.’

‘Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well to-day. It would be most silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.’

‘There is no other day. All days are present now.’

‘Get back! You’re hurting me now.’

‘I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.’

‘Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by to-night’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.’

‘This moment contains all moments.’

‘Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me in pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me–before I knew? It would have all been over by now if you had.’

‘I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?’

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

‘Be careful,’ it said. ‘He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams–all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent…’

‘Have I your permission?’ said the Angel to the Ghost.

‘I know it will kill me.’

‘It won’t. But supposing it did?’

‘You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.’

‘Then I may?’

‘Damn and blast you! Go on, can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, then flung it, broken-backed, on the turf.

I saw coming toward us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder.  Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ.  Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily.  What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear.  As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience.  ‘Shut up, I tell you!’ he said.  It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him.  He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile.  Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.

‘Of so soon?’ said a voice.

The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him.  His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

‘Yes.  I’m off,’ said the Ghost.  ‘Thanks for all your hospitality.  But it’s no god, you see.  I told this little chap’ (here he indicated the Lizard) ‘that he’d have to be quiet if he came–which he insisted on doing.  Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realise that.  But he won’t stop.  I shall just have to go home.’

‘Would you like me to make him quiet?’ said the flaming Spirit–an angel, as I now understood.

‘Of course I would,’ said the Ghost.

‘Then I will kill him,’ said the Angel, taking a step forward.

‘Oh–ah–look out!  You’re burning me.  Keep away,’ said the Ghost, retreating.

‘Don’t you want him killed?’

‘You didn’t say anything about killing him at first.  I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.’

‘It’s the only way,’ said the angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the Lizard.  ‘Shall I kill it?’

‘Well, that’s a further question.  I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it?  I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here–well, it’s so damned embarrassing.’

‘May I kill it?’

‘Well, there’s time to discuss that later.’

‘There is no time.  May I kill it?’

‘Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance.  Please–really–don’t bother.  Look!  It’s gone to sleep of its own accord.  I’m sure it’ll be all right now.  Thanks ever so much.’

‘May I kill it?’

‘Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that.  I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now.  I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.’

‘The gradual process is of no use at all.’

‘Don’t you think so?  Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully.  I honestly will.  In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well to-day.  It would be most silly to do it now.  I’d need to be in good health for the operation.  Some other day, perhaps.’

‘There is no other day.  All days are present now.’

‘Get back!  You’re hurting me now.’

‘I never said it wouldn’t hurt you.  I said it wouldn’t kill you.’

‘Oh, I know.  You think I’m a coward.  But it isn’t that.  Really it isn’t.  I say!  Let me run back by to-night’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor.  I’ll come again the first moment I can.’

‘This moment contains all moments.’

‘Why are you torturing me?  You are jeering at me.  How can I let you tear me in pieces?  If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me–before I knew?  It would have all been over by now if you had.’

‘I cannot kill it against your will.  It is impossible.  Have I your permission?’

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite.  Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

‘Be careful,’ it said.  ‘He can do what he says.  He can kill me.  One fatal word from you and he will!  Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever.  It’s not natural.  How could you live?  You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now.  He doesn’t understand.  He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing.  It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us.  Yes, yes.  I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams.  But aren’t they better than nothing?  And I’ll be so good.  I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again.  I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams–all sweet and fresh and almost innocent.  You might say, quite innocent…’

‘Have I your permission?’ said the Angel to the Ghost.

‘I know it will kill me.’

‘It won’t.  But supposing it did?’

‘You’re right.  It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.’

‘Then I may?’

‘Damn and blast you!   Go on, can’t you?  Get it over.  Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me.  God help me.”

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth.  The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, then flung it, broken-backed, on the turf.

Categories
Life

The Path to Hell is Small, Subtle Sins

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes a series of letters from Screwtape to Wormwood, both of whom are demons working together to keep a man from pursuing Christ.  Screwtape is the mentor, if you will, and Wormwood, his nephew, is his disciple.  In one of Screwtape’s letters, he writes about how their goal is to turn people from pursuing Jesus to pursuing Nothing.  Screwtape writes:

Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have no even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.  But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards, if cards can do the trick.  Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Anything that takes us away from worshiping Jesus is an idol.  Murder and playing cards can both keep someone out of heaven.  Why?  Because it is the heart that matters.  Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).  Playing cards can be sinful if it is a blinder from the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  For that is the devil’s ambition — to blind the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4).

This certainly gives us a much broader view of sin.  Anything we think, do, or say that defiles the glory of God is evil.

So the warning for us in Scripture is this: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbeliving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).