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WD 0506 Oct 31

Extended reading: Romans 15:1-7


“That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. ‘I took on the troubles of the troubled,’ is the way Scripture puts it” (Romans 15:3 MSG).

The Lord be with you.

One Halloween I dressed as Martin Luther and costumed my dog to look like Luther’s Seal. It would have been more effective if Snappy could have balanced a ball on her nose. Didn’t do so well in the 95 Theses category either. Could only come up with six, and the church door was metal. So I did what many good Christians do, I dressed as the invisible man the next year. Too bad the costume was nothing to look at. (Hey, remember? It’s trick or treat, right?)

Your school and congregation undoubtedly have struggled with the “Halloween issue.” Isn’t it amazing that parents fight Halloween alternatives at school and church when their ghosts, goblins, and worse strike the mother lode of treats out in the neighborhood and at private parties! Of course, when you’ve paid $82.00 for a costume …

To get some spiritually redeeming value from Halloween, we rightly can pursue ever-growing strategies in Halloween alternatives, but we also can use the event as an object lesson. Lest you have been sidetracked along the paragraphs as I have, go back and reread the passage at the top of the page. Go ahead and read the extended reading too. I’ll wait …

Costumes are an essential element of Halloween observances. In a sense, Jesus came to Earth in a costume. He was clothed in trouble. Though He was God, He became truly human—looking like us so we could have a better understanding of God’s love—an object lesson that God developed to reach us at our level of spiritual development.

Trouble is no costume. It wasn’t for Jesus and it isn’t for us. Jesus took on our troubles, more aptly called sins, and carried them all to the cross. For Him, sin was only costume deep; for us, we are what we look like. Our costume is no disguise. It’s the real thing. At least for now. Thank God that Satan’s ghastly tricks were no match for Jesus’ treat of treats. (What else would you expect from the King of kings and Lord of lords? ((Hallelujah!))).

Speaking of Satan, how many devils appeared at your door during trick or treat time? Hah! Another object lesson! Satan doesn’t dress so you can tell who he is. Satan is more crafty, like that spoiled kid who nevertheless shows up at your Halloween door dressed as Snow White. Her sweet and polite manner might con you into a few extra pieces of candy. Satan is saavy! He knows how to appeal to us more effectively than even ad agencies.

Jesus was no stranger to trouble—ours and His own. Jesus came not dressed as a King or warrior as some hoped but as an ordinary human, perhaps even more ordinary than the run-of-the-mill ordinary person. His goal was not to obtain treats but to give them. And so He did! Think of all the beneficiaries: lepers, all kinds of physically challenged—truly handicapped—people, the oppressed and outcasts, and the unchurched. Oh, you can’t leave yourself off that list either.

Next time you’re with your class, look out at your class. All are costumed in some sort of sinfulness. And because of Jesus Christ, the costumes of believers truly are only costumes. Someday, we’ll all take off our costumes to reveal what’s underneath—our robe of righteousness. By the Spirit’s power and Christ’s work, we’ll have completely grown into that glorious costume.

Praise to You, Lord Christ! You have redeemed us from death and the devil to serve You in righteousness.

Pray. The devil still is scary, dear Father. Even more so when he doesn’t look like himself! Protect us from Satan—and our own sinful self too. Use us to serve in the footsteps of Jesus, looking “after the good of the people around us” and “keeping us alert for whatever he will do next” (Romans 15: 2, 4 MSG). Amen.