From the beginning of the Bible guidelines were laid down for God’s own people to follow. For example we read ‘You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD’ (Leviticus 26:1-2).
Sadly the specially chosen people often strayed from these guidelines and the message that came was: ‘For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines…’ (Isaiah 2:6).
In Isaiah’s time they were making statues covered with gold and silver and believing they had supernatural power to influence life. ‘Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made’ (Isaiah 2:8). Today, in some countries, statues or idols are still being made. They’re not made of gold and silver, but of wood and stone. But in other countries idols are made in a more subtle form of intangible ideas, belief systems, relaxation techniques, exercise, therapy, or sport.
People who are looking for spiritual experiences, but not for God, have a huge amount of activities and philosophies available just under their nose. There are classes for yoga, tai chi and karate, therapies of reiki, reflexology, and acupuncture, crystals, and angel ornaments, to name just a few. In Britain, even small country villages in the middle of nowhere have a shop advertising such things. And it seems we can’t avoid the advice of doctors, books and internet articles recommending we try these ‘spiritual’ things to benefit our health and well being.
Yet recent research has been done about the health of two groups of people; firstly those who say they are ‘religious’ and secondly those who say they are ‘spiritual but not religious’. The results were surprising, confusing and unexpected to the researchers. The first group was not suffering so much physically or mentally as the second group. The assumption in the minds of the researchers had been that religion causes damage to people. What do they mean by ‘religious’? Well I’ve often been told by people ‘I’m not religious’ and I know that what they really mean is ‘I don’t believe in Jesus Christ or have faith in God’. I can only assume that the researchers have just discovered that faith in God is more beneficial to our health than other forms of spirituality.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we see a great tide of influence coming from false philosophies and practices which claim to be good, but which lead people away from true faith in You. Help us to shine Your light upon these things and expose the falseness, and speak Your Word of truth whenever possible, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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