Avoid “Cargo Drop” Christianity. We’ve been talking about the John Frum cult on the Pacific Island of Tanna. This cult originated from natives on the island encountering the technologically superior cultures of Japan and The United States in World War II. When these forces invaded their island, the natives were astonished at the supplies that would fall from the sky. They, along with other Islands in the area, developed “Cargo Cults”.
Silly, Isn’t It?
I have to admit, when I first heard about John Frum and Cargo cults, my reaction was probably the same as many of you. I thought it was strange. How could people believe this? This sounds like a plot of an old Gilligan’s Island episode.
It seems silly. Watching these island natives building fake air control towers, runways and parade grounds looks bazar to our Western eyes. What’s more, we know it won’t work. Supplies are not going to fall from the sky for these people. But are we as Christians any less superstitious?
Supplies From The Sky
One of the things that struck me when I began researching John Frum and the Cargo cults was how similar they were to the modern Christian prosperity gospel movement.
The John Frum cult wants something from their “god”. They want, well…. Things! The type of things they saw fall from planes 70-80 years ago. Food, clothing, building materials and supplies all magically appeared for them. I imagine for a people that were constantly struggling to survive, having all your needs met in this manner would seem miraculous indeed.
The expectation that “god” will provide for them isn’t original, however. And it isn’t limited to small cults on Pacific Islands. It is present in modern Christianity.
The Prosperity Gospel
We’ve talked before about the prosperity gospel. This is the idea that if you have enough faith, and are a good enough Christian, you will be blessed. And not just blessed in a spiritual sense, but blessed in finances and health as well. If you are sick or poor, the prosperity gospel says that the issue isn’t anything you did. The problem is you just don’t have enough faith.
As I’ve said previously, there are many problems with this idea. Outside of the fact that it is not Biblical in any way, it is also very damaging to Christians who hold to this idea. Every time something bad happens to us, it becomes a larger issue of a personal failure of faith. We haven’t just suffered a personal setback; we have failed God. And this can be a truly devastating and destructive mindset.
Guard Against “Cargo Drop Christianity”
My guess is that if you are a regular reader here, or even a guest, you are probably not a follower of the prosperity gospel. Most thinking Christians are able to recognize the problems with the prosperity gospel and avoid them.
But I think we can sometimes suffer from what I call a soft prosperity gospel. We may not expect to be wealthy or completely healthy as Christians. But there is kind of a shock when things do go wrong for us. We have this idea of “How can this happen to me? After all, I’m a Christian?”.
And let’s be honest. How many of us have shared that picture of Jesus on Facebook because “You will be blessed” if you do? We don’t really expect to experience hardship. In a way, we view God in the same way the John Frum cult view’s their god. We expect our “Cargo Drops” from God in the form of comfort.
Do We Look Like A Cargo Cult?
As I said, this is a problem not only for us as established Christians, but for recent converts as well. If we sell a “Cargo Drop” version of Christianity, people are going to be disappointed. God does not grant our every wish. And if we give the impression He will, we are not only doing a disservice to God, but to the person we are talking too.
The gifts God gives us are beyond our comprehension. Eternal life in the presence of the one true God is beyond worldly riches and temporal health. We may pray to be released from these earthly burdens. And of course we should seek God’s comfort in such circumstances. But we need to keep in focus the very real expectation that we will suffer in a fallen world.
And cargo drops are not the answer to what troubles us in this world. Forgiveness is. And that is what Jesus provides for us. So avoid a “cargo drop Christianity”. Take the pressure off yourself to be a perfect, faithful Christian. God knows we are going to mess things up. He knows firsthand about our physical sufferings. And he has offered Jesus as the ultimate “Cargo Drop” to give us what we need, forgiveness for our sins, and entry into enteral life with God.
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