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TONY ELDER: Superstition and Christianity are incompatible

Tony Elder

Tony Elder

Did you notice the date on today’s newspaper? It’s one of those occasional calendar occurrences some people emphasize – a Friday the 13th.

Does that fact cause you to look at the day any differently? Do you face life today with a little more fear or caution? Do you find yourself taking special notice of any bad things that happen and chalking them up to the bad luck associated with these infamous days?

Or do you simply ignore the date, go about business as usual, or maybe even face it with a determination to go against the flow of superstition and to make it a great day?

I’m reminded of an episode of the “Andy Griffith Show” in which the superstitious nature of Deputy Barney Fife was revealed. However, he steadfastly refused to admit that he possessed such a tendency. He would vehemently declare, “I’m not superstitious! I’m just cautious!”

However, it was a caution that caused him to avoid black cats, carry a rabbit’s foot, and pass along chain letters, among other such behaviors.

Many of us would probably refuse to classify ourselves as being superstitious people as well. We can see where it doesn’t fit in with our claim to be a follower of Christ.

We believe God is in control, not some intangible force people call “luck”. We recognize that trusting in the Lord to protect us isn’t compatible with many of the fear-motivated actions taken by those given to superstition.

However, we might be surprised at the number of professing Christians who seek out good luck, who give serious consideration to their daily horoscope, and who pay close attention to bad omens or things like a Friday the 13th.

Even though we might not consider ourselves to be people who fall into that category, we also have to watch out for superstition getting mixed in with our Christian faith and practices. For example, any time we start looking at some physical object as possessing supernatural powers, or using it almost like a magic charm, we should realize that we are straying closer to pagan religion and farther away from faith in Christ.

It doesn’t just have to be the religious relics, holy water, or statues of saints which we associate with certain sectors of Christianity. We have to be careful or we can treat in a similar fashion those crosses we wear, those Holy Bibles we carry, or those church buildings in which we meet.

Likewise, we can allow some of our good religious practices to degenerate into activities more akin to a magician reciting an incantation and waving his magic wand rather than acts of meaningful worship. We think if we say the right words or perform a certain ritual in a particular way that it will bring the results we want.

Even prayer can become more of a superstitious act if we’re using it primarily to try to manipulate God into giving us what we want instead of as a means of seeking Him and His will.

Superstition may also be coming into play when we start overemphasizing the role of angelic beings, either the good ones who minister to God’s people or the fallen ones who oppose us. Let’s not fall into the worship of such beings – a practice the Bible warns against (Colossians 2:18).

Be careful not to deny or excuse any kind of superstition that we’ve allowed to get mixed in with our lives or our faith. Let’s confess it and replace it with a steadfast trust in the Lord.

As you do so, I hope you have a blessed Friday the 13th.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at revtelder@aol.com.