Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great cloud a of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Heb. 12:1-2
Lord Jesus, over the course of the next 24 hours, many people in the world, mostly Roman Catholic and Anglican, will be celebrating All Saints Day—a day for remembering commendable examples of spirituality. It’s also Halloween—a celebration of strange attire, doorbell ringing, and tooth decay. I can now see how much these seemingly antithetical celebrations have in common.
I used to think the “cloud of witnesses” were spiritual giants, peering down from heaven cheering us on in the righteousness-race. Noah, Abraham, Moses, King David, the apostle Paul—winners and worthy saints, charging us to do more and try harder.
That spirituality fueled my pride, when I did well; and stoked my shame, when I did poorly. Actually, it was a “trick or treat spirituality.” I got the “treat” if I performed well. I got the “trick” if I performed poorly.
What an utter contradiction of the Gospel and mockery of your cross. There’s no more ghoulish or ghastly costume to wear than our own righteousness. The one thing Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul all had in common was their consuming need of your grace. They’re in a “hall of fame of faith,” not of works (Hebrews 11).
So today I celebrate the heroes of grace you’ve sent into my life—the women and men who share the Gospel with me. The only reason I’m a saint is because the Father has hidden my life in yours. My only “dress” is your perfection plus nothing; for you are our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor.1:30).
I will run and finish the race because you are the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. There are no tricks nor treats, there’s just you, and everything we have in you. What wondrous love, perfect peace, great joy, and eternal inheritance we have. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and worthy name.