Faith in Focus

Chain Letter

Dear friend,

Have you ever had a chain­letter in the mail? Don't worry, this is not one of them. If you have, what did you think? Have your children ever had them? You know what I mean, a re­written or photocopied letter telling you how long this letter had been in circulation for and how by copying it and sending it to X­amount of other people you will participate in this great thing and will receive mail [or whatever it offers] from all over the world. We've certainly had a few; I can remember one was a 'recipe­swap chain­letter' one was a 'stamp­collecting chain­letter' and one just an ordinary 'chain­letter'.

But last week we received one that made us sit up and take notice. It came as a single piece of paper, un-addressed, no sender on it, just folded in threes and stapled and put in our mailbox. It is not in our possession anymore, but it made quite an impression on me and it read as follows approx:

" Everything is possible with love.

This letter comes to you with warmest greetings. It is meant to bring you luck. It has been going around for quite some time now and although nobody knows exactly how it works, it somehow brings luck to those who participate. Eg. Mr Jones received this letter and acted upon it and won $25,000 within two days. Mrs McGregor received this letter, laid it aside for a few days, became ill, remembered the letter and acted upon it and was restored to health almost immediately. Mr Brown received this letter, did not intend to do anything about it, went to work the next day and lost his job. He remembered what the letter said, acted upon it and got a better job 4 days later. You see, it works! All you have to do is copy this letter 20 times within 96 hours, distribute it to 20 different people, and the luck will work for you. But be careful to do in within the 96 hour, or it might not work for you. After you have done it, just watch your luck within the next 96 hours. This letter comes to you from a New Zealand citizen, and it works!! We wish you all the luck. Just do what this letter says."

This is not the exact copy of the letter as I wrote this from memory, but I can tell you when I read it gave me the creeps. My first reaction was "Well, some luck wouldn't go amiss in our circumstances right now" but of course I knew that that was not the right approach. The more I thought about it the angrier I became. Who are people to have the cheek to put rubbish like that into our mailbox, not daring to put their name underneath, bringing this threat into our house. Because that is just what it is, it doesn't say it will bring you 'bad luck' if you don't respond within the 96 hours stated, but it surely hints very strongly in that direction.

We have never participated in 'chain­letters' and have not allowed our children to do so either. Even the fun­one or the recipe­one, even though others have said there is nothing wrong with them. I don't like to be forced into doing something, and being told if you don't participate you'll break the spell, I mean chain, which has been going for donkey's years. Perhaps I am super sensitive, but to me it all has to do with black­magic and superstition and I'll have no bar of it!!!

Let's concentrate on this last letter I got though. I believe you will agree with me that this was a rather serious one. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that it even starts off with a Bible text! And when you read on it gets to 'luck'. How do you feel about 'luck'? Do you believe in it? Do you say "I was lucky today, I got the wage­increase I needed so badly" Or, to a child: "Aren't you lucky to go to the zoo today?" Don't we believe that all things come to us by our Father's Hand? That God has all things in control? He made you get the pay­rise because He knew you were struggling! He blessed your child with parents well off enough to be able to take him/her out to the zoo!

Nothing to do with LUCK whatsoever! So why not give Him the glory???? Oh yes, you say, but what's that got to do with your chain­letter? Not a lot, and everything. Because it is all evil powers. Isn't that a bit over the top now? Well, if we are Reformed believers we confess that nothing is neutral. If it's not godly, it's ungodly. You wouldn't say these things come from God, would you? That God would use a chain­letter like this one to bring about something good in your life? And if you didn't He would punish you within 96 hours for your disobedience??? Just imagine: God wants to bless you, so He sends you a letter like this, and leaves it up to you to respond within 96 hours, so He can bring this blessing about. Don't you sense that something is wrong here? That we shouldn't be participating in rubbish like that? That it is all superstition? And that we violate God's commandment to have 'no other gods before Him' if we would participate and 'hope for the luck to come our way. Because then you are putting your trust in something else {a chain­letter of all things!} to supply you with luck. The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 34 Q&A 94 states: What does the Lord require in the first commandment? That I, not wanting to endanger my salvation avoid and shun all idolatry, magic, superstitious rites and prayer to saints and other creatures. That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God, trust Him alone, look to Him for every good thing humbly and patiently, love Him, fear Him and honour Him with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against His will in any way. Q&A 95 What is idolatry? Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed Himself in His Word.

Don't get angry yet...just think about it for a while. Meditate; what does it mean to "Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." [Eph 6: 11­12]

See? Paul knew they are for real, so what are we going to do about them? Do we continue to deny their existence, or nullify the impact they have on us? My friend, they are all around us, and not just in chain­letters either. The devil is so subtle. You know, I'd like to end off by telling you that after we talked about it, Jo and I decided to burn this letter and we prayed that God would keep harm away from us, to give us vision to distinguish and to help us to fight with His armour.

Nevertheless, I must admit that in the next two days I thought about it frequently. And yes, there were disasters, little and bigger ones, but there were also plenty of blessings in those two days. I think all a letter like that is intended to do is focus you on either good or bad; good of course when you did what it said, and so you acknowledge that 'luck' is for real. Or bad, when you didn't do what it said and you'll think "if only I had done it". In both cases the devil had got you wrapped around his little finger because you admit that his power is stronger than the Almighty power of our Heavenly Father who 'works all things for those who love Him'. In both cases too, you don't keep your focus on the Author and Perfecter of our Faith, which is Jesus Christ, who has stood the test against Satan and overcome the devil by giving His life as a ransom, rose from the grave and went to heaven to intercede for us.

Lots of love, Kelly & Jo

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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / / revised December 96 / Copyright 1996