I recently read an interesting article about some strange Muslim behaviour.

Every year, on the first Suro, Java’s new year, the Sultan of Yogyakarta climbs to the top of the Merapi followed by a regal procession. At the caldera of the most active volcano in the world, located North of the central Javanese Sultan’s city, pilgrims plea to the forces of nature to protect them from all kinds of catastrophes.

The gifts they bear with them – colourful rice cones, flowers and fruit – are offered up to the smoking crater. The ritual continues later on the black sand of Parangtritis Beach, where the goddess of the sea receives offerings along the raging surf.

The first Suro happens to coincide with the first Muharram, the Islamic New Year. But this is not just a coincidence – most of the participants of this Hindu-Buddhist-animist ceremony are, like the Sultan himself, practising Muslims.

Why would Muslims, who believe in one god, make offerings to other gods? That is like an atheist praying! Something is wrong. Yet I do not think we Christians are so different. I once spoke to a Christian who thought the saying “God helps those who help themselves” was biblical?

It is easy for unbiblical ideas to lodge themselves in our biblical Christian framework. Most often these foreign ideas, we believe to be true, were taught to us by family, friends, and culture.   Be wise, and read your Bible – constantly testing your personal ideas against it.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God

Be wise; meet regularly with other Christians to speak about life and spiritual matters.

Denis Oliver