No Placebos In 2009

One of my favorite comedians is Steven Wright. He is the thinking man’s stand-up comedian. Here is one of his classics.

“I’m addicted to placebos. I’d give them up…but it wouldn’t make any difference.”

Think about it. defines a placebo drug as a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be a medicine. Some would suggest that all religion is a placebo. Friedrich Nietzsche said that “Faith means not wanting to know what is true.” I realize there are many people of faith who fit into that category. I can speak only for the Christian faith and myself. I have spent many years seeking what is true. I have tried to the best of my ability to be honest. I have read the arguments of thinkers on all sides. I have studied the life of Jesus. I have researched other religious figures. Why would I not want to know what is true? Why should I waste my time, money, and questionable talent on a faith that is false? The men who followed Jesus around for three years faced the same question about who He was.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” < ?xml:namespace prefix ="" o /?>

 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”  Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.” (Matthew 16)


I have looked at the evidence of the life of Jesus and the lives of those who followed Him. I have reached the same conclusion as Simon Peter. Others look at the same information and decide otherwise. As I get further into this journey I am less inclined to be offended by remarks like this one by former pro wrestler and governor Jesse Ventura.  “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.” Actually I agree that “organized religion” can be a sham. That is why I often choose to simply call myself a follower of Jesus. I might take mild umbrage at the weak-minded people comment but I try not to get offended by men who wear feather boas. That is one of my life rules.


Perhaps the larger question for those who believe that Jesus is the Son of the living God is this one.


If you gave your faith up….would it make a difference? Would people notice that your faith is gone? Have you allowed the Spirit of God to work in your life or have you substituted the placebo of church and churchy stuff instead? Have our lives as Christians suggested to observers that faith is just a placebo? Jesus should make a difference in my life. It is so easy to be a placebo parishioner in America. There is no real cost to being a Christian in this country. Perhaps a little ridicule but certainly not the freedom or even life threatening decisions that some must make to follow Jesus. So placebos are good enough to get by in America.


But if you take the real thing you should see a change in heart that is revealed in changed behavior. Daily doses of Jesus should be producing the fruit of the Spirit. You know…that annoying list from Galatians.

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”


I once thought that list was a nice idea but living it was practically impossible. But I have seen men and women who display those traits when their circumstance would suggest far more bitter fruit. Just like the smart people ruined the classroom curve some authentic Christians (like the Amish in Pennsylvania) show me what it looks like to really love Jesus. Placebos only work when circumstances are good and when there is no real disease. When real problems come you need the real medicine. Tired of the placebo of playing church? Here is the prescription.


Try Jesus full strength daily. Don’t just acknowledge the truth. Trust it. Take whenever needed and also take as a preventative dosage. Refills are good for life. Do not accept generics. Users should experience peace, forgiveness, and grace. If anger, bitterness, lust, or other sin symptoms occur contact Great Physician immediately.