Someone once said that “Satan’s greatest achievement was to convince the world he didn’t exist”. The so-called festivities of last night just go to show how accurate that is. While walking through the university campus last night on the way back from the orchestra rehearsal I noticed various flats in the accommodation towers were having parties, with people dancing on tables and “Happy Halloween” banners in the windows. What exactly are they celebrating?
For most people these days, Hallowe’en is just another excuse for a party and a chance to bring out the fancy dress costumes. It’s not that the meaning has been completely forgotten, because everyone dresses up as devils and scary creatures, so the idea of it being about evil spirits is still a factor. After all, even an excuse for a party needs some level of reasoning behind it, otherwise people could just as easily say “it’s the third Wednesday in the month, therefore we should all have a party”. The trouble is, the meaning has been completely perversed and misconstrued, almost reversing the meaning of it completely. Hallowe’en is no longer a night to stay indoors and avoid the evil spirits; now it is a night to go out and become an evil spirit.
The police were very busy last night, responding to the increased levels of nuissance caused by young people wandering around the streets. However, I think the danger is far greater than people imagine – having eggs thrown at your windows is nothing. People have become so blase about everything to do with Hallowe’en that they don’t even recognise that the spiritual dimension even exists any more. “Just a bit of fun”, they say. If only it was!
I was reading Jeremiah this morning, about how the Israelites had ignored God and gone off to worship other gods. God spoke against this throughout the Old Testament through various prophets, but the people just didn’t listen. In fact, they are described in many places as being like an adultress, leaving her husband to prostitute herself to other men who were not her husband. And then they act all surprised when God rejects them! It got me thinking though, that things aren’t all that different now. There is a remnant of Israel who still follow the Lord, but the vast majority have left to follow other gods. In the context of Hallowe’en, one of today’s most popular gods is Self, the god of godlessness. It is the belief of many that God doesn’t exist, or if he does he’s not interested in us, so it’s up to us to make the best of our life, and no one can tell us we’re wrong.
I have no doubt that God is offended by people making fun of spirits, especially since it is mainly children who are being involved in this. It is going to come as such a shock one day when people realise that angels and devils do actually exist, and they will wish that they hadn’t ridiculed those with whom they’ll have to spend eternity.
If you’re interested in reading up on the subject, I’d highly recommend The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, which is a striking and daring look at the spiritual world from the imagined perspective of a devil. It is of course purely fictional, but it does give us a glimpse of just what spiritual battles are going on around us. I think it’s in the beginning of this book that Lewis says that focusing out attention too much on Satan can be fatally damaging, but that not giving him any attention at all can prove just as deadly. You can read an excerpt from The Screwtape Letters, but there is of course no substitute for reading the whole book!
God bless you all, and let us never forget that all is not peaceful around us – the battles are raging all the time and we often choose not to listen.