Superstitions. A very interesting word. But this has really come to be part of the DNA of an African culture. Did you know that almost to be African means to be superstitious? If you are an African like me, you might remember when we were growing up the things we used to hear that would scare us. You know? Like they would tell you that if you hear an owl crying nearby your house, you know that very night somebody in the neighbourhood is going to die. You would hear somebody saying “I was going to work in the morning, I met a rat which crossed the road, so I decided to go back home – because meeting a rat early in the morning spells danger and calamity and misfortune.
For an African all things have some demon or some spirit behind it that controls them. So, when you see a rat it’s not just a rat – it has been sent by somebody
We Have a Very Real Fear of Dark Powers
Of course you can remember that as Africans these are not just things that scare us, they are things that we actually very much believe to be true and to be real. Because at the heart of African traditional thinking and philosophy is the fear of the spirit world; the supernatural. For an African all things have some demon or some spirit behind it that controls them. So, when you see a rat it’s not just a rat – it has been sent by somebody; an enemy, or maybe an ancestor, who died long ago and is grieved. Or by somebody jealous of your success. So things are not always what they look. There is always some power behind them.
People Are Looking for Protection
This is why we live lives of great fear. It is why an African is ever-longing for somebody who can offer a solution to the spiritual powers that may be out to harm him or hurt him. And this is why the notion of a traditional witch doctor is at the centre of our living and philosophy as Africans. He becomes the man who not only understands our fears, but who is able to tap into the supernatural. He helps us and protects us from those great fears and superstitions that we have – guaranteeing health and wealth and safety for all of us.
‘Christianised’ Superstitious Beliefs
Now sadly, superstitious beliefs are not only limited to the African culture. They have come into our churches. Today we have Christians who have believed Jesus as their personal saviour and Lord, but they continue to live like they are still in the African culture. Rather than come with the rats, and the owls that we remember in the African culture, they have come with Christian symbols and rituals and traditions. These they feel they must observe – or must do – in order for them to be safe or to feel that God is at work in their lives.
Somehow people believe that if they sleep on the Bible, demons will not attack them or they will not have bad dreams
Like today, for instance, you will see people putting on armlets. Or they might even have a scripture on them by the way. But what’s the purpose of that armlet? They believe that without it they are not very well protected, or they could come into some danger, or somebody could send them some witchcraft or some demons. Today you will see Christians hanging rosaries in their cars. Today you will even have some people putting Bibles under their pillows, because somehow they believe that if they sleep on the Bible, demons will not attack them or they will not have bad dreams. Or maybe somebody who wanted to hurt them or steal their property will not break in.
So, still superstitious beliefs, except that they have been Christianised. A few scriptures have been sprinkled around them, it sounds biblical and scriptural, but actually it is not.
What Does the Bible Say?
But what does the Bible really say about superstitions and the spirit world? Well, we all agree that the Bible addresses the reality and the presence of the spiritual world. Indeed, there is room for fear of demons and Satan himself. We must remember that Christians are protected from all this. That we who have believed Jesus Christ as our personal saviour and Lord have not only been delivered from the power, the penalty of sin, but we are very much protected by the victory that Christ has won for us on the cross – and even more so through His resurrection.
We are now over-comers in Christ. Therefore we do not need to fear demons, do not need to fear rats crossing the path.
The scriptures tell us that greater is He that is in us than the one that is in the world. That in Christ Jesus we have become more than conquerors! And not even demons, not even the powers of darkness, can harm us. It is very important that we understand this as Christians. We are now over-comers in Christ. Therefore we do not need to fear demons, do not need to fear rats crossing the path. We do not need to worry about what owls are crying about or what parrots are singing, because we are now children of the living God.
We Need Christ, Not Superstitious Traditions
Now, does that mean that demons and powers of darkness are no longer at work because we are saved? No! Certainly they are still at work. But in Christ Jesus we are more than conquerors. Instead of fearing the devil and his demons and the activities of darkness, we need to spend our time trusting, embracing and worshiping God who has delivered us through His son Jesus. And as we continue to worship Him – as God continues not only to assure us of His presence and protection, but as actually he reminds us of the safety and security that is found in Him – then we are no longer living in the fear of demons and darkness and superstitious rituals and traditions.
In Christ Jesus we have become a new creation. As sons and daughters of the living God, we are not only protected from the powers of darkness but we are guaranteed that we will be safe in Christ. And as long as we are under His protection, Satan has no authority or power to attack us. So, we can live with confidence and courage. Knowing that Jesus didn’t just die to save us from sin but He died to protect us holistically – to keep us – until the very end when He presents us before the father in Heaven.