Millions of Americans spent billions of dollars on candy, costumes, and consumable beverages to celebrate a popular holiday last evening. We now call this holiday Halloween. Grown adults spend countless hours decorating their front lawns with ghouls, ghosts, and celebrations of death. By the way, I ate two Kit Kat bars and think most children have fun dressing up appropriately.
Before Americans surrendered to such pagan ideas, Christians would celebrate the lives of faithful saints who died heroic deaths for Christ and the Gospel. I have told the story in times past of the early Christian martyr, Polycarp, who was an early disciple of the Apostle John. During the Roman Empire, soldiers were ordered to arrest Polycarp and bring him to “justice”. The 3rd century historian Eusebius describes what happened. “Polycarp greeted the soldiers and asked for an hour of prayer, ordered a table to be laid for them and invited them to eat as much as they liked.”
Later, Polycarp stood in the Coliseum, which I visited recently . The Governor pressed Polycarp to recant his faith in Christ Jesus before thousands. Polycarp responded, “For eighty-six years I have been Christ’s servant and He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” As they were preparing to burn him alive, Polycarp offered up prayers of faith and praise. In the following years, believers would gather annually at his grave site remembering his faithful witness unto death! As the years passed, believers began to honor and remember all martyrs for their faith and the Gospel.
As parents, we can choose to celebrate death and horrors of hell or we can teach our children about the real heroes of the faith who died for what they believed. Now that you know – What will you do?
[Excerpts from Chuck Colson’s 2007 message, “Honoring the Witness” are used in this article.]