Do you fear demons or participate in ‘spiritual warfare’?
Do you fear God? Do you think you must do something to please him in order to avoid his displeasure? What must you do? What happens if you fail?
In ancient times, people thought nature was filled with unseen powers that could harm them or help them. Superstition began when they tried to discover what the powers wanted so they could appease or manipulate them.
Superstition and fear burdened the ancients and it also burdens many Christians today. Many still believe we are surrounded by demons and that demon activity impacts us. Many believe that God will be angry if we do not follow his demands and that our punishment will be eternal torture in hell. These are superstitious fears.
Abraham discarded much of Mesopotamian superstition to follow a unique god—a god of order rather than chaos. His descendants continued to follow this God, gaining ever-growing insight into his character, but still perceiving him as a dictatorial god who was easily angered and ready to punish his followers. They were mistaken; God never held that attitude.
When Jesus appeared, he revealed the true character of God as the loving Father who accepts us and provides for our ultimate good. Superstitious fear was eliminated along with our alienation from God.
Christians Embrace Superstition
However, it was not long before Christians brought fear and superstition back to the forefront. Ideas developed about how a person must behave to be acceptable to God. Perhaps even worse, ideas developed about detailed doctrines a person must believe in order to please God.
People were expelled from Christian fellowship, condemned as heretics, and even tortured and killed because they did not agree with doctrinal commitments. There were wars in the name of God against those who did not accept required doctrinal beliefs.
The worst of all fears promoted by Christians was the idea of hell—a place where God tortures for eternity those who earn his wrath by falling short of his required doctrinal and behavioral standards. People began to align with God, not drawn by response to the Father’s love and what good he has in store for us, but compelled by fear of God’s wrath and what punishment he has in store for us.
Hell is the most hateful example of fear and superstition! And those who teach a hell of eternal torture do a great disservice to Jesus and his message of love, acceptance, and rest from burdens. It is not that such believers want people to burn forever; they are just misguided by wrong ideas. We discussed the mistaken idea of eternal burning punishment earlier beginning with ‘What About Hell?’
Jesus Destroys Superstition
Jesus came to tell us about the Father’s love for us. In 1 John chapter 4, one of Jesus’ earliest followers shared this message of the Father’s love,
God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This is not the picture of a picky, grasping, and angry god. The writer goes on the say,
In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
The Father loves us and there is no fear in love, so fear of the Father is baggage without any foundation in reality. The Father wants us to be joyous and free of fear. Love drives out fear; consider the Father’s love and feel free to follow Jesus without the baggage of fear and superstition.
Next time we will discuss how faith in God is different from superstition.