Religious superstition is a huge industry. Who knows how many billions of dollars are spent every year on amulets, statues, candles, medallions, icons, relics, special foods, holy water, special breathing techniques, anointed oil, prayer cloths, grave soaking, and pilgrimages?
I’ve been watching Leah Remini’s documentary on Scientology, and I was shocked to find out how expensive it is to be a Scientologist. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, recruiters are trained to get Scientologists to max-out their credit cards and to take out mortgages on their homes to pay for these courses and books.
People will spend thousands for special techniques to be spiritual.
And it’s all useless.
It adds nothing to your spiritual life.
If anything, it detracts from your spiritual life by making you focus on and trust in the wrong things: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything” (Gal 5:6a). If God-given circumcision doesn’t help, the man-made stuff certainly won’t.
If anything could help, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. God would have told people to buy this or that special trinket. God would have given a better law: “For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (Gal 3:21b).
So what does Christian spirituality look like?
It’s so simple: love your neighbor.
This is not sentimentalism or emotionalism but get-your-hands-dirty service:
Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:13b-14).
God would much rather you help an elderly neighbor clean her gutters, or babysit for a frazzled family, or cook a meal for a shut-in, or shovel a driveway for an invalid, or help someone fill out some job applications, or give your parents or grandparents a regular phone call than spend any money, time, or thoughts on a special breathing technique, prayer-beads, or holy oil.
God gave you His Son and gave you eternal life as a free gift, so you don’t have to waste your time being “spiritual” in the worldly sense. You are free…to serve. You are freed by Jesus not to worry about your eternal destiny, so you can concentrate on making a difference in the lives of the people around you.
It’s as though Paul was ribbing the Galatians for spending all their energies on keeping religious rituals (e.g., Gal 4:10-11) while neglecting one of the most obvious and important things about Christian living (if not the most important)—helping the people around you in real and tangible ways.
Where’s your focus—on yourself or your neighbor?