A Chinese finger trap is a simple puzzle that traps the victim's fingers in both ends of a small cylinder woven from bamboo. The harder one pulls to get out of the cylinder, the tighter the grip of of the bamboo. To get out, one has to act counter intuitively and push their fingers toward each other. This increases the size of the cylinder and allows you to free your fingers.
I was reminded of this confounding puzzle when the preacher walked passed the pulpit and drew his pointing finger, “Jesus must be the center of your life!”
There it was. A simple Chinese finger trap.
Let me explain by sharing a quote from one of my favorite books in college, David Steward's Exploring the Philosophy of Religion. There, Mr. Steward says,
“Religious symbols point symbolically to that which transcends [them]. But since, as symbols, they participate in that to which they point, they always have the tendency to replace that to which they are supposed to point, and to become ultimate in themselves. And in the moment in which they do this, they become idols. All idolatry is nothing else than the absolutizing of symbols of the Holy, and making them identical with the Holy itself.”
In short, the more we "MUST make Jesus the center of our lives" the greater our chance of making this an end in itself.
If Steward is right, our need to practice simple or complex faith may have an inverse relationship to our spiritual health. So friends, be religious, pious, and full of faith. But remember, these are not the point. If they are valuable at all, it is because they point us toward, and connect us with the Divine.
Anything less is a simply finger trap.
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