If you go to the supermarket at the moment, it’s impossible not to notice that Halloween is approaching. Sweets, costumes and decorations devoted to all things spooky pack the shelves – vying for space only with the first of the Christmas displays.
As far as representations of evil go, the seasonal vampires, witches, zombies, mummies and so on aren’t terribly subtle. Of course, they’re not really meant to be taken too seriously, but they do reflect the way many people think about the powers of darkness. If the devil exists at all, we often think he must be at work in things that are really obviously evil.
Our reading from 1 John (2:18-3:10) this week is full of references to the forces of evil. But far from the nightmares of Hollywood horror, John thinks that the powers of darkness are at work in the much less eye-catching business of denying the Gospel and disobeying God. It’s these things, rather than the monsters of our imagination, which Jesus came to rescue us from. (1 John 3:8)