Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is celebrated by the Chinese and it is the second most important tradition celebrated after Chinese New Year. On this day, the moon is round and bright. The Chinese believe that the full moon is the symbol of a family reunion. Families gather together for a reunion meal as well as to observe the moon. Many ancient poets wrote about the moon as it reminded them about their family back home and thus they expressed their homesickness in the poems.
Today, most Chinese families will be playing with lanterns, enjoying gazing at the full moon and having a meal with their family and friends. The Chinese will also be enjoying mooncakes— a traditional Chinese pastry which is made from wheat flour and sweet fillings, such as lotus seed paste. The mooncake is a symbol of family reunion. It is usually only eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
However, in the ancient Chinese world, not everyone was able to enjoy looking at the moon. There were superstitions that forbid those who were feeling tired to be out of their house during Mooncake festival. For the ladies who had just given birth, they too, were not allowed to enjoy the full moon, even though they might be standing at the balcony of the house. There were many other superstitions as well which people had to observe to avoid bad luck.
Superstitions are not things of the past. Regardless of how the world is changing, it seems human beings are always looking for some objects, behaviour and belief that make us feel in control of our lives. We know that in life, many things are beyond our control: accidents, bad bosses, terrible job interviews, a sickness in the body, a crisis and so on. We can not control what will happen to our health, wealth and future but if there is something we can do to increase the chances of our having a good life, we will take it.
I have friends who are Christians but they believe in lucky numbers and lucky objects which will give them good luck and prosperity. They still hold on to the Chinese superstition by looking at the Zodiac signs and finding life partners by looking at the time of birth to see if the pair is compatible.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, superstition is, “a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.”
A superstition is a belief that if you do a certain ritual, it will lead to either good luck or bad luck. If you do this, you will have a good day. But if you do that, you will have an unlucky day. We may have our lucky objects that seem to bring us good luck if we carry it with us. This is the more obvious kind of superstition.
There is also subtle superstition too, one that we may not be aware of. We can be superstitious but it is a fake mask of being spiritual. For example, a Christian may say or use a specific special prayer so that God must surely listen. Or, some Christians may even take ministry as superstition: I am serving in church ministry and because of this, God will bless me. I read the Bible and pray in the morning, so that God will bless me with a good day. If we are not careful, we will turn our ministry into rituals that will bring us blessings in life. If I miss reading the Bible in the morning, something bad will happen, which I irrationally believe is God’s punishment for me. We may unknowingly turn our relationship with God into superstition.
One afternoon, a church member came into my office. She showed me crosses which she had brought from a Christian bookstore and requested for prayers of blessings for these crosses. She thought by blessing these crosses, they would protect her family and household. Crosses are symbols to remind us of the sacrificial love of Jesus on the Cross for us and His triumph over sin and death. The cross pendant on our necklace or the cross we put in our living rooms will not protect us from harm and evil—only Jesus Himself can save us and protect us.
How do we know if we are faithful followers of Jesus or we are being superstitious? A sign that we may be subtly superstitions is that we depend on other things apart from God Himself for success, good things, security and protection.
Superstition may seem to give us comfort and a sense of security but it is not the real peace that we can have. Real peace comes in knowing Jesus alone and that His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9), regardless of the external circumstances. Let us not be bound to superstition. We have been set free from fear in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has come so that we can have life to the full (John 10:10), and not a life that worries and stresses over not being faithful in following a certain ritual or behaviour.
Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save us from God’s wrath against our sins so that we will not die eternally. We are saved not because of good works but we are saved because of God’s love and grace for us. We love God and others and do good work in response to His great love for us, not because we want to get more blessings and have more successes.
Superstitions may seemingly give us a sense of control and security but the greatest security that we can have is in Christ Jesus Himself. Do you trust in Him enough that we do not need to have lucky things as crutches for a smooth sailing life? May knowing Jesus be the greatest joy and treasure in your life.