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To the editor:
Columnist Nancy Kennedy wrote a column in the Feb. 15 edition of the paper in which she used the phenomenon of “cargo cults” to illustrate something about the Christian life.
In response, Yossarian Riley wrote a Feb. 22 letter to the editor in which he appeared to equate Christianity with the cargo cults that came into being among remote tribes following World War II.
I had never heard of cargo cults so I searched the Internet to learn more.
Wikipedia says: “A cargo cult is a religious practice that has appeared in many traditional pre-industrial tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults focus on obtaining the material wealth (the “cargo”) of the advanced culture through magic and religious rituals and practices. Cult members believe that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors.”
The cult members sometimes worship their own leaders or leaders of the advanced cultures with which they had interacted — in hopes that they will again bring the material wealth of the advanced cultures to the cults. Wikipedia indicates most of these cults have died out since the war but a few are still active.
Man continues to invent new religions because he is a spiritual being that was designed by God to worship him. When man chooses not to worship God he hungers to worship someone or something else.
Sometimes that is a “god,” sometimes it is a person (or self), and sometimes it is a thing (such as nature).
Like the cargo cults, almost all organized religions are focused on appeasing a deity to earn something the people want, whether it be Heaven, material things, blessings or to appease the wrath of a hostile deity.
Christianity, however, is radically different from the religions. We believe God created man, we are accountable to God for our actions, man sinned against God and in that sin is unable to appease him, the penalty for our sin is death, and God sent his son Jesus to pay that death penalty for every person.
God asks each person to repent of our sins, believe Jesus is who he said he is, trust what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross, and allow him to be Lord of our lives. We don’t need to appease God; Jesus did that for us through his death.
We just seek to walk in obedience to him and serve him out of thanksgiving for what he did. Although the penalty for our sin has been paid, we still have a sinful nature. Because of that nature we often fail in representing and following Jesus the way we should. But thankfully our performance does not take away from what Jesus did for us.
Unlike the cargo cults and the other religions of the world, Christian “rituals” of attending worship, studying the Bible, prayer and serving God are acts of thanksgiving, obedience and service to a gracious God and not an attempt to appease God.
He has already provided all you and I really need.