I read an article today on whether Aspirin really is the kind of talismanic pill it is sometimes thought to be. A psychologist commented that when people are frightened they sometimes resort to "safety behaviours". In other words they do things that might not reduce the real threat in any way, but their actions will make them feel safer.
Sometimes the church resorts to "safety behaviours". This post is really another follow up to Uneasy Vision.
One of our "saftey behaviours", in my opinion, is that of conspiracy theories.
I think our culture loves conspiracy theories. The Da Vinci Code, The Bourne Series, 24. And so do some Christinas. Speculation about the antichrist: I can remember the excitement of reading a book and discovering on page one hundred and something that Anwar Sadat was the antichrist. (He wasn't.). The existence of giant Nephilim like creatures hiding in the earth waiting to be revealed in the end times. Multinational companies whose Satanic control is revealed by their New Age logo. And the many scare stories about what the U.S. federal government is about to do to Christians.
I want to suggest that even if there is a grain of truth in some conspiracy theories, we risk indulging in "safety behaviours" because we are missing the real threats to our faith.
In a sermon yesterday I referred to a book by Oliver James Affluenza. Although I disagreed profoundly with some of James' solutions, his analysis of where western society is at was, I thought, very accurate. What I kept thinking was "Why wasn't this written by a Christian?" The answer? I don't know. But I do sometimes feel as though we get sidetracked into things that produce very little that is in any way helpful.
The psychologist in the article I referred to above, advised that instead of resorting to the safety behaviour of taking a pill people should "choose something healthy that [they] can do on a daily basis such as eating a good breakfast or taking the stairs instead of the lift when [they] get to work..."
Praying, sharing our faith, being kind, showing love and concern, having a servant heart. Not perhaps as exciting as conspiracy theories. Possibly not even as comforting. In the long run, however, it's this sort of Christianity, practised by followers of Jesus up and down the country that has the real potential to change the nation.
See you on the stairs.