Our family has been so well-cared-for by you. Your prayers and messages of support have been a means of grace through a difficult day. Thank you so much for showering us with such love.

***

Tigger

What are your plans for trick-or-treat this year? Will you lock the door, turn off the porch light and hide out in the basement? Will you go shopping, or out to eat? Or will you embrace the reality that dozens of little lost souls may be parading up to your front door with their hands out, asking you to give them something… anything?

For the first few years of our marriage, we were the former. To us, participating in any Halloween activity was an endorsement of the demonic. It meant we were OK with the fake human cadavers and the blood-soaked mock murder scenes up and down our street and plastered over every store. To us, Halloween had gone way too far, and we were not about to participate.

In hindsight, we believe that was not a biblical response.

We have begun to see that the Bible calls us to have a much different attitude toward society.

Instead of burying our heads in the sand and plugging our ears, we are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).

Instead of turning our backs on what’s going on in society, we are to shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

Salt cannot have a seasoning effect if it is left in the cupboard. It must come in contact with blandness before its saltiness can be realized.

Pocahontas

Then there are all the biblical commands to show hospitality (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9).

By holing up in our house, we were sending an unspoken message “not welcome” to our closest neighbors, many of whom we had never met — and many of whom probably didn’t know Christ.

We often think of hospitality as entertaining friends in our home for a meal. But the true definition of hospitality differs on three levels.

First, hospitality doesn’t necessarily involve an invitation.

Secondly, hospitality is extended to strangers, not friends.

And thirdly, hospitality isn’t limited to your home.

If you want to get really technical, hospitality is making an uninvited stranger feel welcome in the space where God has placed you, no matter where that is. It can mean welcoming a stranger into your office at work. It can mean extending a warm greeting to a new face at church. It can mean putting your briefcase in your lap on the bus so someone can sit next to you. There are hundreds of other examples.

Darth Vader

Halloween is a magnificent opportunity to show the love of Christ to strangers, which moves us much closer to the true definition of hospitality. Sure, these passing strangers are dressed funny and are lugging candy-filled pillow cases. But consider that no other 2-hour window during the year affords us such an obvious opportunity to reflect the glory of Christ to our community.

We hand out candy like our neighbors, but we also include an invitation card to our church. It is subtle. But each time we drop one in a bag, we lift up a prayer that the card will make its way into a home that needs Christ, or that needs a church home. Our job is to plant the seeds and God will grant the fruit in His providence. You may want to use Gospel tracts. Either way, it’s a tremendous opportunity to reach out to the neighborhood with the message of hope.

It was only a few years ago that God helped us to see that as believers, we had something of infinite value to offer to the witches, goblins, super heroes and scarecrows — and their parents — who graced our front door every year. And that removing ourselves from trick-or-treat was a terrible mistake. We were wasting an opportunity to simply show the love of Christ, drop an invitation to church into their pillow case — and who knows, maybe even start a conversation that leads to sharing the Gospel.

jack-o-lantern

So this year, will you consider how you can extend hospitality through the opportunity of Halloween? If children go door-to-door in  your neighborhood, don’t retreat to the back bedroom or the basement. Host your neighbors for pizza and games. Invite those around you in. Do everything you can to make your house an outpost of heaven — and your life a salty seasoning to your lost neighbors who need Christ. You won’t have this easy an opportunity until next year.

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I’m on my way to The Relevant Conference (thanks to my sponsor, Miss Selby’s Soaps – have you visited her yet? She is offering a 20% discount on all orders placed with the promo code joy), so I offer up this post, edited from the archives.