Trick-or-Treaters as Image Bearers


Growing up, I likened Halloween to banana-flavored Laffy Taffy. I didn’t love it or hate it—but if it were my only option, I'd reluctantly partake. My indifference to the holiday had little to do with the ethical debate Christians often have this time of year. I just thought it was strange. I didn’t like the idea of going to people’s homes asking for candy, or the jack-o-lantern’s taunting smirk. And I deplored the life-size inflatable replicas of my least favorite critter—spiders. I carried some of these sentiments into adulthood.

But every year, this holiday I once shrugged at leaves me in awe of God. When I look past the spider webs draped over bushes like cotton candy, and the thousands of tiny fingers swimming in bowls of sweets, I see kids imaging their Creator. Their imagination and creativity remind me that, in small ways, they are reflecting the likeness of their Maker.

Imaging Our Creator

It didn’t need to be Halloween for my brother and me to dress up. Growing up, we had active imaginations. We tied towels around our necks and pretended to be superheroes. We knew the world needed saving and assumed we were just the duo to complete the mission.

Sometimes our creativity frustrated my mother—especially when we used our “powers” to steal back “the holy grail” (also known as my mom’s favorite vase), only to break it when we returned to our “lair” (the dining room).

We loved to create—costumes, songs, paintings and more. At the time, we didn’t know we were displaying something about God.

If you only read the first sentence of the Bible, how would you describe God? You might say he is at the start of everything. He existed at the beginning. He is the main subject. But what is God doing? He is making things. When introduced in the Bible, God is creating.

Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (emphasis mine). In the beginning, God is making, forming and shaping the world with his spoken word.

On Halloween night, I wait to hear the doorbell ring. I find it hard to concentrate on anything else as I look forward to children arriving. Why am I excited? I want to see kids who didn’t buy their costumes from Party City. I’m excited to see what costumes they created with everyday household items.

One kid arrived at my doorstep as a washing machine made out of a cardboard box; his sister was a dryer. They glued an empty Tide detergent box and a few articles of clothing onto their "washing and drying machines."

Another girl, dressed entirely in red, stuck a bunch of colorful balls to her stomach and smiled as she held a bag of gumballs in her hand. The creativity amazes me because it shows what God is like. He is a maker and creator in a broader sense. They are like God in this regard, and many don't even realize it.

Making Something Out of Nothing

In Genesis 1-2, God creates the earth out of nothing. He speaks and nature exists. The Hebrew word for "created" in these chapters is bara’. It means to create, shape or form. The Latin phrase, ex nihilo, means to create something out of nothing. God does this in an ultimate sense.

While we do not create ex nihilo, we do create. We play a part in making, shaping, and forming things on earth.

When God gives Adam and Eve what is known as “the cultural mandate” in Genesis 1:28, he commands them to do what he does, but on a smaller level. They are to cultivate the earth. God calls them to develop and tend to the garden where he placed them. As one interpretation renders it:

“The first phrase, ‘be fruitful and multiply,’ means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, ‘subdue the earth,” means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music.”[1]

While we develop and harness the social and natural world, we praise those that do so with excellence. We admire beautiful architecture and listen in amazement to our favorite songs and composers. We love innovation and imagination in kids and adults.

We acknowledge the beauty of creating in our everyday lives, and so do children. They paint, put on costumes, form animals out of clay, build cities with Legos, dress up dolls, pretend to be superheroes. Whether in a unique costume or a painting, as we praise our children for creating in their distinct ways, we must not forget to honor the ultimate Creator that formed our very beings.

This year, as you see children (and adults) dressed up, remember the image they bear in their creativity. In the little things, they reflect a creatively beautiful God who surpasses even their wildest dreams and imaginations.

SharDavia “Shar” Walker lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Paul. She serves on staff with Campus Outreach, an interdenominational college ministry, and enjoys sharing her faith and discipling college women to be Christian leaders. Shar is a writer and a speaker and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Christian Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

[1] Nancy R. Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 47.