“Jesus’ life didn’t go well. He didn’t reach his earning potential. He didn’t have the respect of his colleagues. His friends weren’t loyal. His life wasn’t long. He didn’t meet his soul mate. And he wasn’t understood by his mother. Yet I think I deserve all those things because I’m so spiritual.”
Didn’t want this one to get lost in my asides. I guess my question is, Why do I think I deserve all those things? What’s conditioned me this way?
The unfortunate answer is, churches! Too many American churches have made health and wealth their watchwords, even if they reject the so-called health-and-wealth gospel. Few pastors want to be the guy subverting the values of his congregation. After all, that’s a surefire way to get, well, fired.
“God wants the best for you” couldn’t be more true. Romans 8:28 says God will make everything work out all right for me, right? Not exactly. His definition of best, though, probably won’t look much like my definition of best. His purpose is to see me fashioned into the image of Christ. And the quote up top tells you how his earthly life went.
Now, is that to say Jesus didn’t have times of joy and fulfillment? Of course not. Jesus enjoyed good food and friendship. He grew up in a loving family, from what we can tell. Many people seemed to think he had a great future. But his decision to choose God’s best meant dismissing everyone else’s version, and embracing a future that no one would enjoy.
And yet, if I don’t enjoy every second of my life, I wonder what’s wrong with me. If I feel lonely, or uncertain about my future, or sorrowful, I think something must be out of whack. Aside from the personal question of how I can and must look to Christ and not my situation, I wonder: How can churches help cultivate a deep love for Christ that transcends circumstance–physical, emotional, or otherwise?