Can Halloween, in some contexts, be something that prevents us from building relationships with people? Yes. In other contexts, can it be something that actually helps us build relationships with people? Yes. It seems inconsistent to say both options are okay but I think it is because sometimes we are motivated by the wrong mission. Halloween (along with everything else in our lives) should be evaluated based on what advances the gospel the best.
Creating policies like saying, “no” to Halloween or saying, “yes” to Halloween for different reasons falls short of the question we should be asking, namely, how does this advance the gospel? The mission is not purity (stay away from Halloween). And the mission is not enjoying our freedom in Christ (eating candy and dressing up).
Halloween, drinking, eating and whether or not to coach my children’s soccer teams are all missional questions. The reason you are where you are is because God is doing something with you. Our freedom is for the purpose of being a missionary.
We are God’s people who represent him to others (Gen.12:1-3; Matt. 28:16-20). The mission is not purity or enjoying the freedom we have in Christ but sharing the gospel with people, real people. This is why our freedom in Christ makes such great missionaries!
Paul makes this point when he says he has become “all things to all men for the sake of the gospel” (I Cor. 9:19-23). He wants to build bridges with people for the gospel’s sake and sometimes that might mean doing things that restrict the freedom we have in Christ or taking advantage of the freedom for the sake of the gospel.
Jesus was accused of being an alcoholic and a glutton because he was building relationships with people. He didn’t avoid them to stay “pure.” Paul was accused of being inconsistent in his behavior because sometimes he followed Jewish customs and sometimes he didn’t. Paul’s ultimate concern was not that he would be consistent in his behavior but that he would be consistent about sharing the gospel. The mission determined his behavior. If the people were going to stumble over something it was going to be the cross, not some outward behavior.
Poor question: How can I keep myself pure? Or what can I do now that I am free in Christ?
Missional Question: What can I do that can help me build a relationship with certain people to be the good news to them?