The typical American neighborhood was inundated last night by an assortment of ghosts, goblins, witches, and vampires, interspersed with a few pirates, angels, cartoon characters, bunnies, puppies, scarecrows and ballerinas. Last night was Halloween, and much ink has been spilled by Christians in the debate over how to handle the day.
What most of us forget is the day after Halloween.
November 1 was established in the seventh and eighth centuries as “All Saints Day,” or “All Hallow’s Day,” the day to remember the great believers and martyrs of the faith. [The night before All Hallow’s Day came to be known as “All Hallow’s Eve” — and ultimately — “Halloween.”] In fact, Chrysostam reported that the practice began as early as in the fourth century in the Eastern Church (though not on November 1). The day was established by the church as an alternative to the pagan ritualistic celebrations of October 31.
The spiritual significance of the day is not just remembering, however. It is in imitating the lives of faithful believers, as the writer of Hebrews demonstrates.
Hebrews was written to a persecuted group of believers who were considering turning away from Christianity and back to Judaism. In the epistle, the writer exhorts these weary believers to stand firm in the faith by considering Jesus and His work and, among others, those faithful men and women who had died for their faith in God and Christ (11:13, 39-40; 12:1).
And then at the conclusion of the letter he offers one more similar exhortation: remember your spiritual leaders; evaluate the outcome of their lives; imitate their faithfulness.
The encouragement is equally significant today.
Remember who God has placed in your life for your spiritual benefit. It might be a parent, a friend, a pastor, a special mentor, a book, or even a passing acquaintance. Many people have contributed, by the providence and direction of God, to your spiritual progress. And don’t merely remember who those people are but examine their lives carefully. Contemplate and consider the result of their faith in their lives.
And if at the end of their lives, it could be said that they were good and faithful servants (Mt. 25:21, 23) who fought the good fight, finished the course that God had established for them, and kept their faith in God to the end (2 Tim. 4:7), then imitate them. They have been a gift of God to you to mentor and guide you spiritually (2 Cor. 11:1). Follow them.
Tozer said it well: “Before we follow any man we should look for the oil on his forehead. We are under no obligation to aid any man in any capacity that has not upon it the marks of the cross….God has His chosen men still, and they are without exception good listeners. They can hear when the Lord speaks. We may safely listen to such men. But to no others.” [The Root of the Righteous.]