I am not a supporter of “celebrating” Halloween. This observance is firmly rooted in pagan tradition and continues to rise in popularity as a festival of the occult. Our church offers an alternative, called “HarvestFest.” We invite the community to come and celebrate Jesus through games, rides, candy, and contests . . . and yes, that includes costumes!
Back in my childhood, Halloween was little more than carving out pumpkins and a night out trick-or-treating with the neighborhood kids. Today it is big business for adults and kids alike, including horror movies, haunted houses, and Halloween parties and celebrations of all shapes and sizes. One of the attractions our family never misses in our trips to Walt Disney World is the Haunted Mansion.
Because today is Halloween and likely we will have young, costumed visitors coming to our homes looking for candy, I thought I would write about the “costumes” we adults like to wear year-round. And I’m not talking about the store-bought ones!
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:1-13)
Adam and Eve constructed the first-ever “costumes” in the Garden of Eden after they stepped into the serpent’s trap. When their consciences were seared by their sin, they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness and shame. And when they heard the sound of God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, they ran and hid. This is the primary reason we wear our costumes. We like to hide ourselves from the view of others. We don’t want anyone to see what we are really like . . . as if our blemishes are unique to us.
God confronted Adam and Eve in love and not in anger, but instead of confessing their sin and seeking God’s forgiveness, they attempted to shift blame. Adam blamed Eve and God Himself (“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit . . .”); Eve blamed the serpent; and we all have been blaming-shifting ever since. We wear costumes, seeking to cover our mistakes, shortcomings, and sins—which makes it easier for us to blame others and God for the predicaments we find ourselves in.
Wearing costumes allows us to keep from confronting the real person underneath the mask. This, of course, is a great comfort for all those who willing seek after satisfying the desires of the flesh rather than the Spirit.
So . . . what costumes have you been wearing lately? What would happen if you took yours off?
The Gospel frees us to step out of our costumes, because—regardless of what others think of us—God’s love is as unchanging as it is unconditional. Costumes enslave us; the Gospel frees us. Costumes blind to the glories of His kingdom; the Gospel opens our eyes to see with the eyes of faith. The Gospel liberates us from the need to hide and when we are found out and rids us of the need to blame. Jesus died to set the captives free, and in Christ we are free indeed to be exactly what we are: great sinners in need of an even greater Savior.
As fallen, sinful people living in a broken, sin-filled world, we can step out of every costume we wear for creaturely comfort, because the only true source of comfort is found in Christ.
What costume will you wear today? Why not rest is the reality of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ? With His robe of righteousness wrapped tightly around you, what else could you possibly need?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!