Friday, December 11, 2020

Make me happy -- I dare you!

Many of the popular preachers today proclaim a Christianity which is filled with happiness, contentment, success, fulfillment, and all that is good.  I wish.  C. S. Lewis once suggested “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”  He had it right.  Every attempt to turn the religion of the cross into a self-serving path to what you want is a hijacking of the faith.  If you want happiness, perhaps Christianity is not your best choice.  More from Lewis:  “While it lasts, the religion of worshiping oneself is the best. I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years, and is, more or less, I regret to say, one of the happiest men I know.”

Sadly, Christianity has not learned that emptying the faith will not fill the churches.  Oh, to be sure, they will come for a bit but as soon as life kicks them in the ribs, they will discover that the cross is not about being so giddily happy that you can smile and laugh your way through it all.  The joy of the Lord is not a knee slapping joke that makes you snicker when trouble rises up along your way.  No, the joy of the Lord begins with repentance and sober talk about sin and guilt and shame and death.  No, it does not stay there nor does not end there but you cannot get there without it.  Instead of avoiding sin and guilt and death, it leads through it all to the God whose love is strong enough to bear the burden of it all and deliver us to peace through forgiveness.

At some point in time you might think we would learn that self-interest is not the appeal of the Gospel.  Christ is not somebody you use to get where you want to go.  He is not the means to another end, He is THE end.  Even orthodox churches sometimes forget this.  We get so wrapped up in our programs that we forget the Gospel is not a program and neither is worship.  Sometimes these other things become the tail that wags the dog.  The pandemic did not cause this to happen but it certainly accelerated the idea that we must appeal to people's wants and desires and meet them where they are.  So if they do not feel  like getting up and going to church, the screen will meet them where they are.  And if they are not into everything, they can fast forward or skip the parts they do not like and it is all good.  Or is it?  Is making them happy or meeting their needs really what the cross is about?

Having our best life now seems to be what folks are into.  If Jesus can help that to happen, well, then, fine and good.  But if not, there are other ways -- after all Christianity is not the only game in town.  Perhaps a spirituality without a loyalty is better than any brand name.  Even some Christians seem to be open to this.  The cross is but one example of self-sacrifice toward a higher purpose.  Other paths have other examples.  But you need not be exclusive.  It is thoroughly permissible to spiritually promiscuous if it gives you want you want.  Another strike against orthodoxy is the whole idea that Jesus is THE way, truth, and life.  

Well, I guess it is time to end this rant.  It all started with a religion that was a toy, something to amuse you and make you happy for as long as it lasts and then head on to something else.  Where it ended is a frustration for those who are looking for a Christianity that delivers what they desire but without the bitter aftertaste of the cross, confession, and new life. 

1 comment:

Derek Pauley said...

Amen, Lord give us strength, wisdom, and perseverance to bear our cross with joy. There is no greater gift than eternal life. If this is your best life now - be concerned!