Perhaps you don’t think of yourself as superstitious but take another look! Do you try not to count the number of magpies in a ‘parliament’ (those troublesome birds), avoid walking under ladders (surely that’s just common-sense), wonder if things really do come in threes or stop yourself thinking if it’s good or bad luck to see that black cat?! Such things may seem innocent and are often handed down from one generation to another. How many coins lie at the bottom of this ‘wishing well’? Would it be harmful to lob one in or doesn’t it matter? The child of God probably knows the answer or will instinctively have a ‘feel’ for whether it’s right to have the palm read or throw salt over the shoulder. Are there any past or present practices in your life that have passive or active power over you?
- ‘Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing’ – Helen Keller
- ‘Superstition is the religion of feeble minds’ – Edmund Burke
- ‘Man's mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain’ – John Calvin
- ‘The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses’ – Francis Bacon
Many celebrities are known for their superstitious habits and are often embarrassed about them. Yet many of us too have had some kind of OCD behaviour at some time or another with seeds of anxiety around health, safety or success. Can you recall any of yours?
- ‘If I walk onto an airplane, I always have to go on with my right foot first and tap the outside of the plane’ – Jennifer Aniston
- ‘I am finicky about making sure my sneakers are pretty tight. It is almost like a superstition for me’ – John McEnroe
- ‘If I told you my backstage rituals, and was honest you would think I was a little weird. I carry my crystals with me which some people might think as odd’ – Victoria Beckham
- ‘For me, there are about 18 things I have to do before I can go out to perform, most of them are too ridiculous to repeat! One is I have to brush my teeth before I go on stage, otherwise I just don’t feel smart’ – Chris Martin
We might think that superstition is harmless fun, but is it? It certainly can lead to some amusing practices such as the ravens kept at the Tower of London. At least six ravens are kept in the Tower of London at all times due to an old superstition that without them ‘the Crown will fall and Britain with it.’ The Tower ravens are enlisted soldiers and are occasionally dismissed for bad conduct. They are treated like royalty and receive a nourishing diet of fresh fruit, cheese, meat, as well as vitamins and other supplements. Unlike wild ravens that typically live for 10-15 years, Tower ravens live for over 40 years. On September 13th 1986, Raven George was discharged and posted to the Welsh Mountain Zoo for attacking and destroying TV aerials. In 1996, two other ravens were dismissed for ‘conduct unbecoming of Tower residents.’
The serious point about all this is that we should base our lives on God’s truth not on fanciful shadows and legends. If we build on sand, Jesus tells us that when the storms of life come, then such buildings will collapse. By contrast, if we have our foundations on God’s Word, we will weather all storms.
- ‘When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead’ – Deuteronomy 18:9-11
- ‘Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practised sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly’ – Act 19:18-19
Saul did wrong by consulting a Medium in Endor to invoke the ghost of Samuel. As a result he was badly shaken. When a child of God watches horror films, they are in danger of the same thing as it is opening up the mind to fear, anxiety and nightmares. In Acts 8, we read of Peter rebuking Simon the Sorcerer for wanting to buy the powers given to people who received the Holy Spirit. Later, Paul dealt with the fortune teller in Acts 16 and it led to a riot! The Kingdom of Light has nothing to do with darkness and nor should followers of Christ open up their lives to any other power that would seek to control, steal and ultimately destroy them.
- ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light’ – Ephesians 5:8-13
- ‘Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God’ – John 3:20-21
So as we are led by the Holy Spirit, our lives are to shine out like beacons for others. When a person says, ‘Touch wood’, this is an opportunity to ask if they realise this came from people wanting to touch the wood of the cross. When a person sneezes, there’s surely no harm to bless them then or at any other time! When tempted to cross your fingers or to lob a coin into a wishing well, turn to God in prayer instead. Refuse to be intimidated by the number 13 but recognise it is simply another number. Jesus tells us to swear by nothing but to let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ be ‘no’ for ‘anything beyond this comes from the evil one’ – Matthew 5:37
TAGS – deceit, wickedness, deception, darkness, counterfeit, magic, trickery