January 17, 2010

Did you know that email is propagating a modern version of animism? If you are one of those people who forwards things that end with “send this to 8 people in 5 minutes and God will bless you,” I’d suggest you stop reading right here. Those emails are what I’m talking about.

I had many friends in my adopted homeland who were animists. In simple terms, animists believe that things have a spirit, and that there are many spirits in nature and man-made things that control events and circumstances. Some of them believed in God as well. For them, he was one of the stronger spirits. But in order to live a happy, healthy life, you had to keep those more capricious spirits happy. For example, if someone was building a house, he laid a coin in the hole and poured liquor on it before putting in the post. This would make the spirit of that area happy so that the people in his house wouldn’t get sick. If someone did get sick, he went to the medium who – for a price – would tell him the sacrifice required to make the person better. It might mean killing a chicken. It could entail doing a certain ritual. After he did that thing, he expected that sick person to get better. If they didn’t, he’d have to go back and try again. Maybe the sacrifice wasn’t good enough. It’s a system based on making a deal with a spiritual entity; you do your part of the bargain and the god is required to act in accordance with your expectations.

I think you can probably see where I’m going with this. We, the “civilized,” don’t sacrifice chickens. We’d never dream of appeasing the spirit of the land when we broke ground for a new building. But we think nothing about guaranteeing that the God we claim to worship will do someone a favor if they meet certain requirements. In essence, isn’t saying “if I send this to all my friends, God will bless me,” the same thing as saying, “if I bury this coin and pour out this libation, God will keep my family safe”?

The tendency to put God in a box and say “Now, behave like this,” is a control issue. It negates faith and puts the human in charge. In both instances above, humans are attempting to manipulate God. That is not Christianity; it’s magic. From the very beginning, man was unhappy with God’s rules. God said, “I’m God and you’re not,” and the primal couple said, “Uh uh!” They believed Satan who told them God could not be trusted. God had to be manipulated. Paraphrased, the devil said, “God told you a lie. Eat this fruit and you’ll be like Him.” That sounded pretty good to Adam and Eve. They could be God’s equals, maybe run the show. People have been trying to do that ever since.

You can tell I detest those emails. They rub me the wrong way. I can just see Americans chasing chickens and sitting down on city street corners to slit their throats. “Here, God – I’ve done my part. Now you owe me something.” Believe me, He doesn’t.

I think instead of deleting those forwards, I’ll simply change the wording to, “Look around, friend. Say a prayer of gratitude that you woke up on the top side of the garden today. Count the blessings God has already given you. It wouldn’t hurt anything to thank Him for them.”

Now send this blog to 8 people in 5 minutes. I’ll bet you’ll never get another forward instructing “send this to 8 people in 5 minutes…” 🙂

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6 Responses to “”

  1. Larry Seguin Says:

    Hey Jenny – This is right on! We need to remember that God is sovereign and will not be manipulated, and we can always count on Him to do what is right and good. Larry

  2. Darla Says:

    Jenny,
    Great job! Thanks for voicing my feelings on this subject exactly — I hate “send this to …” emails. God blesses because He is God, and he is good. No other reason. Amen.


  3. Hey Jenny! I love your January blogs! Your writing is a gentle reminder of God’s love, and also His justice. He doesn’t work on our system or dance to the tune of our demands.

    We need humility, as the Bible calls for over and over. But, we don’t read the Bible very often, so we really have no clue what it says.

    I’m guilty, so I can say that. God’s really been working on me over the last few months as I roll out of bed each morning and race to my desk. When will I stop and see Him? How important is my to do list, really?

    Your diligence in the Word and to write the things He tells you encourages me.

    I love you…and talk to you soon! – David E.

  4. JD Says:

    Right on!!

  5. Jacque W. Says:

    Thank you! All together now, one more time…Thank you!
    Very well put, Jenny. Your reference to what you saw in your “adopted” country is powerful. We sophisticated, civilized Westerners have more hoodoo, voodoo, magic nonsense in our thinking than we realize, even believers, as you said, and to our shame. But the bad, sad part is we shame the God who bought us with His blood. God have mercy on us.

  6. Louise H. Cox Says:

    It is amazing to me that you did this updating of your blog last evening. I was rather blunt with a good friend of mine who sent one of those “send to 12 people in 5 minutes and see what happens”. I then was bothered about it. It was so good to see you reminder of God’s authority, not ours. Thanks again. Thanks for sharing in all the other “On the Way” and others. Louise


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