Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Symbols of Life and Death

Dear Friends,

Last week I walked into one of those large discount stores on Tuesday morning and was greeted by dozens of evil demons. Hideous. Black faces with red, glowing eyes. They seemed to be looking straight at me. Some with devilish grins and some with faces frozen in silent screams. As I walked past a large group of witches, their eyes flashed at me and I could hear their cackles as my presence activated their battery operated motion sensors. It’s nearing that time once again when all of America celebrates evil on Halloween night. 

Why do we cry out in outrage over the evil we see manifesting in the Middle-East today where journalists and Christians are tortured and beheaded, and then we celebrate evil by staging gory displays of beheaded mannequins in our front yards? Why do we decry the genocide of Christians taking place in the homeland of Christianity, pray against the demonic powers and principalities that are driving the demonic acts committed by Muslims (Eph 6:10-12) and then dress our grandchildren in “adorable” demon costumes? Why do Christians join pagan witches and Satan worshipers in a night of celebration on October 31st and display the symbols and images of the Evil Ones in our homes?

Okay. I hear your horrified reaction. “But that’s not one and the same Pastor! You’re comparing real, ugly, harmful evil with pretend, fun and harmless evil..!” Symbols can be powerful images that evoke the reality of what they represent. Symbols are more than a representation of an object, they can connect you viscerally with that object. Let me show you what I mean.

Look at the picture of the Jack O Lantern. Do you see a popular winter squash that evokes images of a delicious pumpkin pie? 

Think for a moment about the cross... What images, feelings and thoughts come to mind? 

Look at this photo of a plastic Halloween decoration... What thoughts and feelings are evoked with this image?

And now look at this Christmas decoration. Think about the baby Jesus in a manger... What comes to mind? What are the thoughts and feelings you have about this decoration in comparison to the Halloween decoration? 

There is nothing intrinsically “evil” about a plastic and painted demon. There is nothing intrinsically “good” about a painted plastic baby in a plastic animal feed trough. But those plastic symbols evoke in our minds the reality of what they represent. Those two symbols call to mind completely different and opposite thoughts and create very different feelings and emotions. 

You just looked at two Christian symbols and two symbols of evil. Which of those two pairs seem to stick in your mind the longest? If the evil images are disturbing and seem to linger in your mind, that’s why God’s Word tells us to avoid “fellowship with demons” (1 Cor 10:20-21) and “avoid all forms of evil.” (1 Thess 5:22) This scripture says that we are to abstain from even the symbols of evil.  

Religions have always used symbols to powerfully connect people with who they worship. Throughout the Old Testament, God continually tells His people through the prophets to cast down and smash the pagan idols. That’s because the idols were far more than a carved piece of wood or a likeness chipped into a rock. They were powerful spiritual symbols that became the “avatar” – the embodiment of the deities to those worshipers. 

The Bible very clearly instructs Christians to have nothing to do with the practices of demonic darkness. Halloween is a rite with pagan, demonic roots. (For more information on the origin of Halloween, click here) At this time of year, we need to use wisdom in what we bring into our homes because symbols also represent what/who we worship. If I walk into a home and see a cross on the wall, I know who you worship. If I see a large Buddha, I know who you worship. I knew someone who collected African Voodoo masks and saw photos of her living room walls. I knew who she worshiped. 

Back to Tuesday morning. I walked past the Halloween decorations, looked at the shelving that ran the length of the store and stopped. Stunned. WHAT? It’s August!! The “dog days of summer!” Stifling hot in the valley! And already I’m seeing Christmas decorations? But I couldn’t help to notice the contrast. If the demonic and pagan witchcraft decorations raised my anxiety level by evoking the reality of Satan. Now a few steps further in the store and the decorations symbolizing the birth of our Savior were evoking the reality of Jesus and I felt the peace of the Holy Spirit. 

Our homes are our “sacred spaces,” and the symbols within should communicate who we are... our priorities... what’s important to us... who or what we worship. Do the symbols in your home authentically represent who you are? If not, what would you need to add or take out to faithfully communicate who you are to others? If you invited a new neighbor into your home for a cup of coffee would she know that you’re a Christian by what is symbolically represented? Do the symbols in your home glorify God? What do they say about you? What would you like them to say?

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