13 January 2017
Howard and Holly Satterthwaite are on the leadership team at Westminster Chapel, London.
Today is Friday the 13th. The so-called unluckiest day of the year, and in the first month of the year. Surely this is a bad omen for 2017?
But that's just superstition, right? A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences – and in our secular, western world we've largely rejected this mumbo-jumbo nonsense, touch wood (that's a joke, by the way).
To quote the magnificent Stevie Wonder: "Superstition ain't the way".
At least, that's what we'd like to think. Nearly one million Brits believe in the power of lucky underwear, and roughly three million think if you blow all the candles out on your birthday cake, you'll actually get your wish. But us Christians? No way, absolutely not. We aren't superstitious.
Yet some of us slip into thinking: "If I live a good life, God will only let good things happen to me," or: "I got up early to read my Bible this morning, surely He'll give me a seat on the train on the way to work, right? But if He doesn't, maybe I've done something wrong and He just has it in for me today."
Faith becomes all about me, my behaviour and improving my life in some way rather than it all being about Jesus.
That's not to say there isn't some truth in superstition, walking under some ladders could be bad for you, especially if you're one of the Chuckle Brothers. Superstitions are often half-truths, perhaps the most dangerous type of deception of all – think Genesis chapter 3. It's important believers don't buy into them, not only as living under these limitations can lead you into oppression, play with your emotions and even make you question your salvation, but also because it's a bad witness.
Too many people already think Christianity's superstitious; they don't need us to give them a helping hand. Professor Jerry Coyne in an interview with National Geographic, for example, lumps Christianity in with all other religions, calling them all "harmful superstitions".
But we know the truth. It's rational not irrational. It's objective in that it's supported by first century eyewitness evidence, most notably of the public crucifixion and resurrection of its founder, Jesus. Being public means it's historically verifiable, unlike all other private, personal dream/vision/experiences that begat other belief systems.
And yes, it is subjective, in that it's accompanied by an inner witness. But this isn't some uncertain 'he loves me, he loves me not' feeling based on my behaviour. No, God's love is unconditional. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10:9). As Philip Yancey put it in his book Amazing Grace, once you've crossed the line of faith there's nothing you can do to make God love you more, there's nothing you can do to make God love you less (see Romans 8:31-39).
Your experience of His love may vary, but your status as a loved one can't change. This is good news.
So for what's left of this Friday 13th, put your new shoes on the table, open your umbrella in the lounge, befriend your local black cat and live for the one who is, rationally, the most wonderful supernatural being you could know.