Sunday, September 6, 2009

What does it mean to be superstitious?

Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over tribut...Image via Wikipedia I am taking a side track for today from mindfulness

There are two types of superstitious beliefs. One is attributing the cause of something that has nothing to do with the real cause (Acts 14:11-13). The second is a belief in doing something that has no real power (Acts 8:9-25). The first one is easy enough to recognize. It happened to our Lord Jesus when the Pharisees accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan. It also happened in Acts 14 when the people in Lystra began to worship Paul and Barnabas believing that they were the gods Hermes and Zeus after they had healed a man. These superstitions are blatantly obvious. The other type of superstition is much more difficult to discern.

Turn to Acts chapter 8. This passage is filled with superstitious beliefs that still plague the church today. They are 1) you can get God's grace by having someone else pray on your behalf; 2) you can get into God's favor by giving money; 3) we display God's power by doing some special thing; 4) coming to church saves you; 5) baptism saves you; 6) making a public profession or saying the sinners prayer saves you. These superstitions are alive and well in our Church today.

Lets examine why these six superstitions deny the true power of God. The first superstition is that you can gain grace through other's prayers. Ultimately the only path to God's is repentance and commitment by faith. The prayers of others do not lead to God's grace unless that person is willing to get right with God.

In the second superstition Giving money to God will not earn his favor. You cannot buy off God. He does not need your money and He certainly does not want your money if it is given expecting some special privilege. The true privilege is in being able to support the ministry so that others will be saved and grow in Christ. The blessing is that you will store up treasures in heaven.

It is superstitious to say God's power is revealed in the acts that we do. The reality is that the Power of God is expressed in our weaknesses. God is glorified when we step out in faith and He accomplishes in our life things that only He can accomplish. Ultimately God's power is not revealed in what we can do, but rather what He can do. It bears repeating: God's power is not revealed in what we can do, but by what He can do.

It is superstitious to believe that simply showing up for Church will change you or ultimately save you. There are many in churches that simply show up. They believe that they have done a great thing by coming into the house of God, singing some songs, and managing to stay awake during the pastor's sermon. However, just being here does not lead to a changed life.

Baptism also does not save. Baptism is an important act of obedience that stands as a public testimony to the commitment that a person has made to Christ. It is an essential part of the believer's walk with the Lord. However if it does not symbolize a genuine commitment in the person's life then that person is just getting wet. Just getting wet. The superstition is that the act of baptism, which is a symbol, has the power to save.

Finally it is a superstition to believe that a profession of faith and or the sinner's prayer saves you. There are some that have made a profession of faith that really in their hearts did not believe. It is kind of like the superstition of a lucky rabbits foot. Most people that carry one will tell you that they don't really believe it is lucky, but they carry it around just in case it does bring good luck. Some people have the superstition that if the pray a certain prayer or say a certain thing that it will save them just in case God requires it. This is superstition. They might as well have said "Abracadabra alakazam Lord please save me just as I am." Now I don't say this to call into question your assurance of salvation. If you are saved you are always saved. However, your assurance ought to be based on a changed life and the Holy Spirit working in your heart. Without these then a person really needs to take a look at their life to see if their profession of faith was really a superstitious act.

There are many superstitions outside the church in our day as well. Some of them are: Lucky rabbits foot, astrology, faith healer, Ojai boards, fortunetellers, tarrrot cards, Urban legends and on and on. Our society is a superstitious one and has a tendency to believe what ever they hear or read. I suspect many of you have experienced receiving emails forwarded to you by a person sucked into believing something that was not true. People are superstitious.  Christians need to be on guard that what we think is our faith is in fact simply superstition.