Today is Friday the 13th, a day some associate with bad luck. Just saying the phrase brings to mind other (imagined) connections with misfortune, like black cats, broken mirrors and an open umbrella indoors.
While as Christians we should steer clear of these “silly myths,” (1 Tim 4:7) the reality is we have a few “superstitions” we believe, too. Ours might not be rooted in magic or chance, but in a misunderstanding of what Scripture truly teaches.
Here are a few common Christian misperceptions – and what the truth really is:
1. God wants you to be happy.
If God loves us, wouldn’t He want us to be happy and have everything we could ever want?
The reason is God’s more concerned with your character than your comfort. That’s why we’re not entitled to health, wealth, and … stuff. Because of original sin, Christians get cancer, have marital issues or lose their homes in tornadoes and wildfires.
In fact, sometimes being a Christian is what brings the tough times. Right now, around the world, Christians are being persecuted and even martyred. Here in the U.S., some are losing their careers and businesses because of their faith.
But like it happened with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, often God is more glorified when He walks us through the fiery furnace than when He keeps us from it. That’s why “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
2. We’re all God’s children.
While we’re all God’s creation, we’re not all God’s children. The honor of being His child belongs to those who confess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
As it says in John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
3. God helps those who help themselves.
It’s an oft-cited verse that’s not in the Bible. And while it’s true there are plenty of verses that extol the benefits need of hard work and shun laziness, the bottom line is Christians aren’t like the Lone Ranger.
Practically speaking, that means we’re ultimately not responsible for our own success. We are dependent on, and obedient to, God. We trust Him to guide our steps and open up a way for us. As Pastor Rick Warren once said, “God doesn’t help those who help themselves. He helps those who turn to Him.”
4. Science and Christianity are incompatible.
The culture has set up a false “war” between the Bible and academia, perhaps because some scientists talk about evolution and other theories as if they’re proven fact.
However, the reality is science continues and regularly confirms Christian doctrine. As my friend, Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary once wrote, “Are science and Christianity friends? The answer to that is an emphatic yes, for any true science will be perfectly compatible with the truths we know by God’s revelation.”
5. The Christian divorce rate is just as high as the world’s.
Turns out one of the most-quoted stats is also one of the most inaccurate. Fact is, is the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than it is for their secular counterparts. A Focus Finding report show the key is in differentiating those couples who are merely nominal Christian from those who are serious disciples. As the report states:
“Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes – attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.”
6. Children raised in Christian homes will keep the faith, guaranteed.
I wish this were true. I wish there were a God-approved “10-step program” that would make it so no son or daughter would stray from his or her childhood faith. However, even very good, very godly parents sometimes see their children wander off. Perhaps the most perfect example are Adam and Eve – despite being “parented” by God, they sinned.
So when we read Proverbs 22:6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”), know that verse is meant as a general truth, but not an absolute guarantee. In parenting, we’re dealing with people who have free will and can ultimately make their own choices.
I do believe that ultimately many prodigals raised in church and disciplined according to Scripture will find their way back. Some of our sons and daughters take a winding road to owning their faith. But for those of us who know parents suffering because of a wayward child, please – don’t pile on the shame. Rather, come alongside them in prayer, and ask that God’s grace will lead their children back home.
So, there you go – six “superstitions” we could finally put to rest. These barely skim the surface of what Christians often, erroneously, believe. What are some of the myths you’d like to dispel? Let me know in the comments. And … have a happy Friday the 13th!