The twin evils of superstition and craven fear
When we don’t go to God with good, believing hearts, and instead follow our own superstitious religiousish mumbo-jumbo, we sin in two ways:
1. By worshipping a fake and lame-o God.
God has told us what he’s like. He’s actually spoken. In Jesus we were with God himself. What does superstition do? It looks in the other direction and says, “Oh, hi God!” A superstitious person may put on a solid looking religious act, bow themselves, raise their hands, pray until they sweat, do the whole show, but they’re not looking at God and honouring God–they’re honouring not-God; really, they’re honouring themselves and their imaginations.
Many people think, “If it sounds spiritual, and I use the G-word often, all the religious people should applaud me and stop asking me so many questions.” But true worshippers know fakery when they see it. Worship of the real God conforms to God’s will. Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever, worship and obedience just doesn’t change from person to person, according to their likes and dislikes.
Approaching God is not like approaching a church potluck: “Pick what you like, leave what you don’t, and enjoy your very own God!” Like our elder brother Lactantius said long ago, “No religion is valid which is not also joined to truth.”
2. By thinking we can approach God on tip-toes, and only when we have to.
Superstitious people don’t like God — they fear him. They know he’s a Judge that loves good and hates evil. If they had their choice, they’d do away with God all together. After all, no God means no judgement.
Buuut, that darn God-stamp (or seed of religion) just can’t be suppressed or erased, and so the ever present God-stamp stays, and stays scary.
So, some are willing to do the religious thing from time to time, because they imagine, “That’ll keep God distracted for a while!” But this kind of “spirituality” isn’t sturdy; fear will only hold you back from sin so much — you’ll find ways to give in, and refuse to bring every last sin to God to terminate.
What true godliness entails
Superstitious religion is only a shadow (and calling it a shadow is being pretty generous). What we ought to be after is Believing Heart™.
True religion isn’t made up, but God-spoken, and only those with Believing Heart™ can receive it, and walk the long road of joyful obedience.
Believing Heart™ doesn’t make a God out of all its favourite things; Believing Heart™ loves God for who God is.
Believing Heart™ knows it’s naturally weak and so asks God to guard and protect it.
Believing Heart™ asks God for help all the time, and trusts that God is both generous and kind.
Believing Heart™ knows that in the face of every distress, God’s mercy is on deck to bring in the remedy.
Believing Heart™ knows that God is Judge, but also holds to him as Father.
(It’s important for you to know though that Believing Heart™ still fears God –but not like the superstitious do. Proper fear includes both a love of God’s good law, and a serious-minded reverence of God’s majesty.)
Friend, knowing God is why you were made. To miss this God is to miss why you were created. And it’s only when you know this God that you can truly know yourself.