It’s the time of year we carve: we carve pumpkins for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, and our bank accounts for Christmas. This habit of carving pumpkins is incredibly fun with kids, who love to imagine such great faces, both scary or silly. In recent years, it has become increasingly challenging as social media has upped the standard and what used to be triangle eyes and a toothy grin has changed into elaborate movie scenes or multi-character displays.
But the simple jack-o’-lantern has also been changed into a sort of object lesson for Christians. Various versions of this parable have circled around social media for weeks now, and we have a version in a board book we have read to our children, but it seems appropriate to write the main ideas of this parable here for your benefit.
Pumpkins come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Some are tall and lean. Some are short and fat. Some are covered with bumps and lumps, while others are smooth. They come in a variety of colors, from the traditional orange, to yellow, red, gray, and blue. Yet, no matter how different they all look, they are still just pumpkins.
This is like mankind. We all look different, are shaped different, and colored different, but we are still all humans. We are God’s creation. We are made in His image and He has declared us as something special.
Once a pumpkin has been chosen to become a jack-o-lantern, it must be cleaned up. It must be carefully cut open, typically around the top, and all of the seeds and pulp must be removed. This is messy job, which not many people enjoy, but it’s a job that has to be done if we want the pumpkin to last a long time as a newly formed jack-o-lantern.
Again, God has to do similar work on you and me. He must get inside us and clean us out. He has to take all of the bad stuff away, getting out those seeds of doubt, seeds of sin, seeds of selfishness, and seeds of worldliness. He has to make us clean on the inside. We ask Him to do this when we repent, confess, and are baptized for the “cleaning” of our hearts and the clearing of our conscience.
After we clean out the pumpkin, we give it a new face. Every pumpkin looks different still, but they all smile, grimace, or glare frighteningly.
God gives us a new face too. While we were enemies of God, we are lost and hopeless. We are desperate to be cleansed from our guilt and saved from our sins. But when He cleanses us from the inside out, we can be happy again. Proverbs 15.13 says, “Happiness makes a person smile.” We should be smiling people when we are made perfect by our perfect God.
Lastly, we put a candle flame inside our pumpkins so their faces can be seen by everyone. We will put them out on our stoops, or displayed somewhere in the house, because we’re proud of the work of our hands.
God does a similar things when He puts a light in our hearts (cf. 2 Cor 4.6). He wants us to be seen by others so they can see our good works and glorify Him (cf. Matt 5.16). He wants us to be seen so people can see what good work He does when He sets out to make someone new (cf. 2 Cor 5.17).