“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”Hebrews 12:1
From the first days of the church, we have been challenged and inspired by the lives of those who have served God in their time. And there is no shortage of people to look to. From the first disciples through to men and women today who have devoted everything to God, there is much to celebrate. The love and hope that are found only in Jesus have inspired courage and self-giving like no other cause. In 2019 alone, around 3,000 Christians gave their lives for their faith, and the persecution of our fellow believers is getting worse. We know why this is. Jesus warned us that as the end of the age approaches, as the gospel is preached to all nations, the church will be targeted for persecution and deception. Our enemy knows his time is short and is doing everything he can to kill, maim and destroy not just Christians, but every part of God’s creation. Life, joy and peace he hates, and will attack until he meets his end.
“Our enemy knows his time is short and is doing everything he can to kill, maim and destroy not just Christians, but every part of God’s creation. Life, joy and peace he hates, and will attack until he meets his end.”
As the passage from Hebrews shows, we have always remembered those whose lives reflect God to us, particularly those who have been martyred. In doing so we acknowledge that the church is not just those alive today, but every believer who has ever lived. One day we will be united with them in such joy that it is not possible to imagine as we see Jesus, the firstborn, face to face. Around the seventh century this remembering took the form of a special day. In the Western Church this is celebrated on 1st November as All Saints Day or All Hallows.
Despite the fear and intimidation Satan brings, Christians through the centuries have brought good news: health and healing, hope and forgiveness. We live in the good of their work. They kept a witness during dark times, they preserved the true faith, they spoke of Jesus even when to do so was to risk their lives. They frustrated and even overcame the enemy and his forces by “the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony and (they) did not love their life even to death”.
Every single Christian today stands in a line of faithful witnesses stretching back to the first apostles. We owe them so much. We don’t worship or pray to them, and we don’t need to confine their inspiration to a single day each year, but we are ever grateful for their lives and the example they set for us.
“Every single Christian today stands in a line of faithful witnesses stretching back to the first apostles.”
We live in a time when the battle for lives is more obvious than ever, and where the genocidal cruelty of the enemy cannot be ignored. Make no mistake, behind the hatred and killings lies the malice of our enemy, working through those who knowingly or unknowingly promote his cause. It is a great sadness to me, therefore, to see how our nation and even some Christians, have forgotten those who fought our brutal enemy, and instead set aside a day to celebrate the enemy they fought against and his goal of death and misery for all.
As mini-Christs what we do with our time matters, it actually affects the course of history, the lives of those around us and our eternal inheritance. What we celebrate, what we set aside time for, what we put our hands to is an act of worship and festivals like Halloween are steeped in our enemy’s messaging and agenda. It is not a event to be redeemed.
Do you think that Halloween is harmless fun, just pumpkins and fancy dress? Think again. In this season, who and what are you choosing to celebrate?
 Matthew 24:3-31
 Revelation 12:12
 Revelation 12:11