It’s almost Halloween, and as we know, Christians have some mixed feelings on this. The other day I wrote that as Christians, we should welcome any opportunity to inject beauty into the world, and Halloween is one of those opportunities. In fact, I think it’s actually a huge opportunity the people of Jesus would do well to not ignore.
Of course, Halloween always begs the question, “What will you be this year?”
That’s a worthwhile question if you ask me.
My 13 year old is going as Supergirl, and I’ve been helping her with her costume. Growing up our costumes were often made from whatever you could find around the house. Want to be Superman? Great- here’s your Underoos t-shirt, and you can use the red bath towel and a safety pin to make your cape. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who can remember Underoos!)
I didn’t want my daughter to have to feel silly with a red bath towel for a cape, so we did her costume right.
Yet, as I was working on part of her costume I started to wonder: What would Jesus be for Halloween?
As an actual spiritual practice I often try to consider the Jesus we find in the New Testament, and wonder how he might engage modern culture– culture that in many ways is radically different than the culture he lived in. Pondering this question for a few days led me to three things I think Jesus would be for Halloween this year:
1. Jesus Would Be Welcoming.
I remember trick or treating as a kid and being able to safely assume that every house was welcoming and ready to have you knock on their door. Today? Not so much. One has to look to see if they left the outside light on, one must look for decorations or some other hint that it’s okay to walk up to their house and ring the doorbell; one can no longer assume that you’re automatically welcome.
Well, that’s not how Jesus would live. Jesus lived a life that was radically welcoming; in fact, he faced near-constant criticism from the religious elite because he even welcomed the people he wasn’t supposed to welcome. If Jesus were to be living in our culture, I think it’s safe to imagine that his house would be the most welcoming house on the entire block. Sure, he’d leave the porch light on, but everyone who had lived in the neighborhood more than a day or two would know that you’re always welcome to drop by Jesus’s house— even if you’re dressed as a ghost or goblin.
2. Jesus Would Be Radically Hospitable.
If Jesus lived in your neighborhood, even the people who hadn’t met him yet would have heard about him because he’d have a reputation for radical hospitality. He wouldn’t leave the candy in a bucket on the doorstep, and he wouldn’t be one of those folks who just drop a piece of candy in your bag and softly mumble “have a nice night.” Instead, Jesus would make sure that your encounter with him– however short– would have you walking away feeling cheerful and good about yourself.
Such love is in fact, what hospitality actually means. The word actually comes from the Greek word φιλό, meaning brotherly love, and ξενος, meaning strangers. Thus, Jesus would be the guy on your block ready to love strangers like they were his own brother, and he’d find a way to make them feel loved even in a 15 second encounter on the doorstep.
3. Jesus Would Be Generous.
I’ve never heard of anyone more generous than Jesus. He freely set aside his heavenly throne to enter humanity– not to be served, but to do the serving. He ultimately hung on a cross, willingly– a cross that didn’t belong to him. He sets the standard for generosity.
If Jesus lived in your neighborhood, we’d see his radical generosity play out in modern ways. At a minimum, I think it’s a safe bet that Jesus wouldn’t be buying a bag of dum dum lollipops and being the single dude who gives every kid just one; Jesus’s house is where all the kids would go because they’d know he gave out full size candy bars. Name brand ones too! We live in a world where we often don’t even know our neighbors, but Halloween is a night they all come to you. I think Jesus would capitalize on this chance to demonstrate generosity to those around him.
Instead of running from culture and hiding, Jesus was someone who worked within his culture to love others. If he lived in our culture during Halloween? Well, I’m convinced that Jesus would take the opportunity to be welcoming, hospitable, and generous– cause that’s just how Jesus is.
Yes, for Halloween my daughter is going to be Supergirl.
Well, this year I’m going to try to be Jesus.
What about you? What will you be?