Burning Faith

“When Christians ‘borrow’ parts of sacred Indigenous American ceremonies, commercially exploit them, imitate them, and put their trust in them instead of in God, they both disobey God and disrespect the sacred beliefs and traditions of that other culture.”

Man burning white sage incense


When God commands that we have no other God except Him, He is telling us to trust and put our faith in only Him: “You may worship no other god than me.” (20 Exodus: 3)

Throughout our lives, we will be encouraged to place our faith elsewhere, completely or in part. Unless we are careful, we may not even realize that we are doing so.

For example, I’ve read that the burning of sage (“smudging”) is increasingly popular for the purpose of cleansing a home of evil spirits. To this end, many people – including some Christians — burn sage bundles and then wave the smoke from it throughout their home as a way of “purifying” it and removing from it negative energy or evil spirits. Rather than praying to God to bless their home and trusting God to protect them, they place their faith in burning sage or other herbs and naturals. When people trust burning sage or other herbs and naturals to protect or cleanse them from sin instead of God, they disobey God.

It’s foolish and disobedient not to rely on God for spiritual protection because God has promised to protect us, including against Satan and demonic spirits: “But the Lord is faithful; he will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) However, unless we trust in God only for our spiritual protection, we will not be protected from our  disobedience.

It appears that people’s trust in sage (or other herbs and naturals) to protect against evil spirits or “negativity” is often misguided and misappropriated. This practice, when commercially exploited or performed by non-Indigenous people in the US, is often based on a bastardization of sacred spiritual practices of Indigenous cultures. Often times it is based on a blatant disregard for, or partial understanding of, their underlying spiritual beliefs. Lacking wisdom about such matters, Christians can unintentionally betray their faith in God and disrespect Indigenous cultures by commercially exploiting and mimicking parts of their sacred ceremonies.                          

When Christians “borrow” parts of non-Christian religious ceremonies, commercially exploit them, imitate them, and put their trust in them instead of in God, they disobey God. When they seek spiritual cleansing through smudging instead of Christ’s forgiveness, it trivializes Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.

It is incumbent on Christians as followers of Christ’s teachings to be aware of and deliberate in anything we do that even hints of a spiritual nature. It is in spirit that our soul resides, and it is in spirit that our relationship with God is reflected and our love for God and others is nurtured. If we place our spiritual faith in something other than God, we are lost.


Photo: Monika Wisniewska

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