Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Ready To Celebrate Evil?

Promotional photo of a Haunted House at a Methodist Church

Dear Friends,

There is evil so shocking it cannot be forgotten. A few years ago, a 26 year old man crossing the street just a few hundred feet from my house was hit by a black BMW racing around the corner. It was a hit and run. He was found lying on his back after being flung into the air. Covered with blood. Unable to shout, he moaned, “Please help me” to some passing horseback riders who at first did not see him by the side of the road. They called the paramedics who took him to the hospital where he died. What was illegal was that the street racer didn’t stop. What was immoral was that the driver didn’t help the person he hit. What was evil was that my Mexican neighbors heard what they described as a “grito” – a celebratory yell from the driver after the impact as he burned rubber to speed away. A celebration of your own evil when you think you’ve just killed someone? We’re all getting fed up with street racing fatalities, shootings, stabbings and the pervasive wicked evil that’s suffocating our Nation today. And yet it’s now once again time for our own October “fun-filled” celebration of evil.

In order to emphasize the horrors of the war in the Ukraine, the media – even the Christian media – has published jarring photos of dead and mutilated bodies of both soldiers and citizens. Bodies scattered throughout cluttered debris. Some in body bags but some missing limbs, lying in puddles of blood and surrounded by grieving loved ones. What Russia is doing in its targeted bombing of Ukrainian citizens is pure evil, and it’s now time for us to celebrate evil on Oct 31st when front yards will be decorated with “dead bodies” laid out among the clutter of props. Covered with blood. And yes I do know what some of you are thinking. “Oh but that’s not one and the same, Pastor! You’re comparing real, harmful evil with something fun that’s just pretend and harmless evil..!” You’re right. It is only imitation evil but we’re told “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11

As our Nation has been struggling with a revival of racism, we’ve been recently and appropriately reminded of the lynchings of over 4,000 Black Americans. A permanent stain on our Country’s history. Pure evil. Next week, people will decorate their yards by hanging mannequins by the neck from their front yard trees. But of course pretending to hang someone is fun and harmless evil... “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11

Throughout the Mid-East, Muslim extremists behead Christians in accordance with the Qur’an command in 47:4. “So, when you meet (to fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks.” Mohammad’s teaching that it is God’s will for Christian believers to be beheaded is absolute evil. On Halloween night, the “fun” evil of graphic beheadings will be featured in front yards throughout our Nation. “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11

We had been renting the sanctuary from a mainline church where we held our services and I was on the phone with the congregation’s president. I’d heard that  they were going to convert their sanctuary into a house of horrors to celebrate Halloween for the neighborhood children. I told her that if they desecrated God’s holy sanctuary with scenes of gore and evil, we could no longer worship there. I told her that their sign out front should read: “TRIGGER WARNING: This Church Celebrates Evil and May Terrorize Children.” I’m not sure if the sign suggestion gave her a pause for thought or the loss of our monthly rent check made a difference, but they decided to not do a house of horrors in the church. 

But next weekend, many American churches will be holding “haunted houses” in their church as they attempt to reach out to the unchurched community. Arranging “lifeless” bloody bodies for a terrifying fright fest to show how culturally cool they are. Walking dead “zombies.” The gorier the better! Just pretend and harmless evil. But after the slaughter of twenty-six worshipers in the 2017 Texas church shooting, survivors said it looked like a house of horrors. Should churches really be imitating evil with their own bloody house of horrors?  “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11  

The dictionary refers to the Devil and his demons as it defines evil as “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.” The Bible uses the Greek word “poneros” that is translated as “evil” and means being wicked (ungodly) and doing wicked deeds. Evil is vicious, sinful, corrupt malevolence. Evil is an exuberant shout of celebration as the body of the young man you just hit is flung through the air and you leave him to die in the dark. 

There is no “fun” evil – no “good” evil. Evil is directly or indirectly caused by supernatural demonic forces and God is grieved by our casual participation in Halloween when evil is celebrated as good, safe and fun. When we fellowship with demons, we provoke the Lord to jealous anger. 1 Cor 10:19-22  You can dance with God or hold hands with the devil but you can’t do both. “How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?” 2 Cor 6:12-15   Amen?

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