We cannot generate faith ourselves.
We cannot possess greater faith
by fostering or facilitating something inside our psyches.
There is no incantation, meditative technique, guru-gimmick or mystical magic
by which we can generate faith out of our own resources.
— Victor Shepherd (Seasons of Grace)
As the exiles began to make their home in foreign lands, a group of women decided to make a play to gain influence in the community. Borrowing ideas from the land they had been thrust into, they sewed magical armbands and bound amulets around their foreheads.
These female magicians gained power over people with a false displays of spiritual prowess. They ensnared their prey like a hunter captures a bird.
. . .
It’s uncanny how relevant this passage is today. To be sure, there’s not a lot of witches vying for power in our churches. The threat is much more subtle. The goal of these magicians was to dazzle their people through false spirituality to gain power in the community. This happens often today—with both men and women.
Let’s look at some false displays of spiritual power:
- Prayer cloths: Do you really think God needs a piece of cotton blessed by a spiritual leader to answer your prayer? Could it be possible that he just wants to hear from you?
- Holy water: Television evangelism wouldn’t be complete without seeing someone offer a vial of holy
water from the Jordan river that Jesus was baptized in. Holy anointing oil from olive trees in Israel is another play on the same theme. Is God bound to act just because someone has taken some water or oil from the place he walked through a couple thousand years ago?
- Point of contact: Another staple in the modern spiritual racket is to place your hand on the television as a point of contact for faith to be released. Again, can you picture God in heaven biting his nails saying, “if she would only touch the screen, I could really do something for her”?
- Belief-ism: There’s a misguided idea out there that if you can just think hard enough and actually believe that you have received a miracle, you will get it. That’s not faith: faith is a solid trust in Jesus. And by the way, Jesus said that a minuscule amount of faith—the size of a mustard seed—was all that we needed to move mountains.
God is not some celestial magician divvying up his power to people who go through the right motions or say the right things. He is a loving Father who wants to hear from his children and do what’s best for them. Don’t be deceived by charlatans pimping the latest marketing fad in the name if Jesus.
. . .
God will not be mocked by these scams forever. In Ezekiel’s day, he said that he would tear the bands of their arms and set their captives free to fly away like a bird from its captor. God will show the magicians that he is Lord, and they cannot presume to speak for him and control his actions.
. . .
Loving Father, help us to rely on you for our security. When we’re in trouble remind us to run to you before anyone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.