In this worship gathering, we hear a message on the importance of sharing our faith as followers of Jesus, recognizing that there are many anxieties that build up in us as we think about the process. This message helps us overcome those anxieties and gives us suggestions on how to share our walk with the Lord. The message is based on John 1.29-42. You can watch the whole worship gathering below, or just the message below that.
The western pull-out from Afghanistan has been heart-wrenching to watch on television. As I mentioned last week, the resurgence of the Taliban has placed many people at risk, especially women and Christians. For the Americans, the way this is playing out is very reminiscent of their time in Vietnam.
Canadian forces are saying that they wish they could have stayed. But the Big Fish in the Pond has decided that the multinational effort is over. It’s like they have given up, in some ways, though I’m certain this is an oversimplification.
Have you ever put effort into something – say, a friendship – and found it an uphill battle? It’s common for us to give up when we’re not making any progress.
This is especially true when we are seeking to encourage someone to embrace faith in Christ.
We might find ourselves getting blocked every time we try to “go there” in terms of spiritual conversation. But let me encourage you not to give up.
To use another battle image, consider the speech given by Prime Minister Churchill to the British Parliament in 1940, in the midst of the ugliness of World War 2. It is one of the most inspiring speeches ever given! Quite near the end, Churchill tells his fellow parliamentarians, and the world: “…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”.
When you’re sharing your faith, like on the battle fields, it’s a matter of life and death. Don’t give up. Never surrender. Even when you get pushback, be loving and respectful, but continue to witness to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ at work in your life.
For your friend, eternity is in the balance.
“But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, ‘I believed in God, so I spoke.’ We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4.13-18, NLT).
There are varying opinions among followers of Jesus regarding what to do about Hallowe’en. Some say we should steer clear of it because God’s people shouldn’t be celebrating the devil’s holiday. Others say we should engage, either because it’s just dressing up for fun or because it’s a way to witness to the community.
I have some sympathy with each side, I must admit.
Hallowe’en is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, the day marked in the liturgical calendar ahead of All Hallows’ Day, or All Saints’ Day, which is November 1. Its origins, my wife reminds me, are Christian: poor children would go door-to-door in search of food. Prayers would be said over homes. The needy would be cared for. God’s work would be done. Only later did a more sinister element come into the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve.
The devilish twist that has come to Hallowe’en is yet another mark of the depravity of humanity. The idea that anyone would throw eggs at the homes of those who do not give out candy is not part of the original plan. Rolling large pumpkins down hills and having them splat into whatever got in their way is not what the poor children of small English towns were seeking to have happen. Putting poison in apples or razor blades in candies is not what was intended for marking All Hallows’ Eve.
Can Hallowe’en be redeemed? For a while, one would see ‘alternative’ gatherings, where kids were asked to dress up as their favourite Bible character and come to the church. But it just wasn’t the same for anybody. There are still alternative activities that are offered, and they can be fun.
Taking your kids around to neighbours’ homes can be a way to build bridges with your neighbours, perhaps leading to relationships that could help you share God’s love. Opening your home to kids who come seeking goodies can be valuable, too. Carve a cross into your pumpkin (to ‘let your light shine’!). Don’t wear a scary costume. Engage the kids in real conversation. On top of that, opening your door to trick-or-treaters can be a way to get Scripture into their, and their parents’, hands and hearts. I especially recommend Scripture selections – little snippets from the Bible on pertinent topics – from the Canadian Bible Society. They aren’t doctrinal in nature – just offering pure Scripture in an easy-to-read translation that will give the kids who come to your door something to think about…something to chew on as they chew on the goodies you’ve given them!
But if you’re going to mark Hallowe’en as a form of Christian witness, make sure the candy you put in beside the Scripture selection is really good stuff. After all, the Bible tells us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8a, NIV)!
By the way, more important than Hallowe’en, today is Reformation Day. It was on this day in 1517 that Augustinian monk Martin Luther made public 95 ideas for reforming the church from the inside. In today’s terms, it “went viral”, and began the Protestant Reformation. Happy Reformation Day! May the Lord bless you in whatever way you celebrate.