New Zealand is becoming home to an increasing number of non-Christian festivals ranging at this time of year from Halloween to the Islamic New Year to the Birth of Guru Nanak to Diwali. Some of these are city centre festivals, others neighbourhood activities, and others are celebrated within certain ethnic communities. What are we to make of them? Can Christians even take part? There are a number of options:
Many of us will seek to avoid them. They hold no meaning for us and we do not wish to offend God by taking part. We want to avoid demonic contact (Lev 26:1, 1 Cor. 10:20).
Some of us will participate in a limited capacity. For example, if a Hindu neighbour offers us food at Diwali, then we will eat it as an act of goodwill once we have quietly given thanks to Jesus first (1 Tim 4:4). However, one would not light a Diwali candle or take part in non-Christian prayers and rituals.
Others will teach the Christian truths that are hidden in the festival. We will use the theme to point to Jesus and reality (Acts 17:16-34), e.g. I find Halloween a good time to talk about life/death/eternity or the genuine power of the Holy Spirit. We will pray for our neighbours and friends that as they seek God, they will find Jesus.
Halloween is tricky. It is largely pagan, but with no real religious prayers or rituals. It is also a good time to remind families and friends of Christian truths. What's your response to these festivals? Talk about it as families and friends.