Narcotics for Man's Soul


Tradition can be a dangerous thing when the roots of that tradition are stripped away. The dried-out husk that is secularized Christianity has been the dominant worldview in Western nations for decades. A lyric sung by Johnny Cash some years ago comes to mind: "I stopped outside a church house where the citizens like to sit/They say they want the kingdom but they don't want God in it." Where once the early Christians brought Scriptures to the world, now churches vainly bring the world to Scripture.

The world's paradigms are not God's, yet as Christians we persist in the whole square peg/round hole exercise with embarrassing futility. Popular culture (whether labeled "Christian" or not) must be vetted warily by the word of God. If it is not, we have the tendency, through upbringing or tradition, to find Christian meaning where there isn't any. Christianity is thus reduced to being just another course in the cafeteria of the world's philosophies and religions.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians Chapter 5:

16 So, I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.
The idols of our modern age may no longer be made of gold or silver as they were for the Israelites of the Old Testament, but they are just as ubiquitous and certainly no less displeasing to God. Mankind trades in earthly securities like money, power, sensuality, possessions, entertainments, artistic indulgences, intellectual rationalizations, and perhaps most deluding of all, external moralism. While fallen man has no thirst for the truly spiritual, it is tragic indeed when nominal Christians attempt to sublimate their idol worship (whatever form it may take) with "Christianese" -- a layer of icing over a very stale cake. The secular humanists can, and do, see right through this charade. Tradition in name only is a very desolate place. Robbed of God's Word, tradition poisons rather than preserves the soul.

God made us for His purpose, not the other way around. It is delusional to be led by one's own sense of "niceness" and "morality," hoping for a pat on the back from some kind of cosmic entity. When we pray to our blessings rather than to the Lord, we are placing our trust and devotion in idols. Ignoring or twisting Scripture to suit the Self is usually not far behind. If a believer's walk with the Lord is weak, that individual will see only what their idols show them -- in effect, they see what they want to see. As a consequence, prayer and their references to prayer ring hollow. For it is as Jesus said: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8) The unsaved are not moved by talk or labels but by the grace of God working through those men and women obedient to His will.

Christians will find sustenance in God's Word, not tradition or experience. Ray Comfort writes that "for the Christian, every day should be Thanksgiving Day," knowing full well that not every day feels like a holiday. The meaning behind the Thanksgiving tradition is certainly worth remembering. The Thanksgiving holiday (word origin: "holy day") in the U.S. is a unique vestige of a once Christian nation. But as Christian beliefs have become more and more marginalized and diluted, Thanksgiving is now thought of as the day that officially precedes the beginning of the "holiday shopping season," the epitome of gross consumerism in a secular society. The holiday may still celebrate the blessings of hearth and home, family and friends, but deprived of its spiritual context, the idols of humanism are once again placed above the source of all that is holy and righteous.

Thanksgiving Day should be a time to cast down idols and worship our Lord. The 18th-century English poet William Cowper once wrote:
The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol may be,
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.
Thanksgiving as a holiday should remind believers that thanksgiving as a form of worship (cf. Psalm 69:30) is really God's gift to us every day of the year. When we abide in His will, we find that the Lord is always watching over us and providing for us, far above and beyond what we deserve. For this, our thanks cannot truly be contained to one day.

Consider Jesus' words from Matthew Chapter 6:
25 Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?