Religious Spirits

"In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!’ ‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly…" —Luke 4:33-35

Once when I visited an old, large cathedral, a choir was practicing at the front of the sanctuary. Beautiful music echoed everywhere. Even though I was in the back near the narthex, I could tell they were singing a hymn in Latin. I recognized the tune as one of my favorite hymns, “All Creatures of Our God and King.” There weren’t many people around, so I began singing along. A church worker approached and in no uncertain terms told me I was being a disturbance. I looked around at the high arches and lovely stained-glass windows, the tables of candles and statues—wasn’t this a place to praise God?

I'm not about to pass judgment on any cleric at that cathedral. But I have to admit, the church felt “religious,” a grand display of formality and ritualism. I was reminded of today’s verse. Evil spirits—that is, religious spirits—feel very at home in some churches and synagogues. They feel very comfortable in church buildings, or even congregations, where the focus is on rituals and traditions, rather than the vibrant life of the Spirit of Christ.

That particular church building was not the only place in which I’ve sung impromptu praises to God. There were great cathedrals in Europe, as well as in Notre Dame (the cornerstone for this cathedral was laid in 1163). Should you ever visit one of these church buildings in cities around the world, softly fill it with prayers and hymns. Let’s remind those old arched ceilings that they were built for the glory of God. 

Father God, thank you that your Word has been preached from ancient pulpits over 2000 years. I pray against every religious spirit that wars against the Spirit of life.
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