Monday, 22 August 2011

Something Beautiful

Jesus is not a self-help guru whose goal is to make you feel better about yourself and make all your troubles disappear.

Jesus is not a brand that we are trying to sell, a product we are trying to market and put into your homes and life in order that you will have everything you ever dreamed of.

Jesus is not there to grant you your every wish, help you get rich and make you look good in your community.

Yet there is a danger that the church can basically make him out to be these very things.

Our culture feeds off quick fixes of self-help and 'make life better' brands.  Consumerism, capitalism and materialism means that most of us will buy something to make us feel better.  I know I do it.  And advertisers and companies know this is how we feel and what we do.  And deep down I'm sure we know that a new phone won't ultimately make life better, but we still buy it and advertisers know we will still buy it for that quick fix of feeling that we get when we hold this new gadget in our hands.  And we know that the clothes and the perfume and the car will all get boring and old and lose their initial high, but we still get them so we can experience that initial high.  And advertisers know that the feeling will wear off and we will go and buy a new car and some new clothes just to feel good again.

And we know all our problems won't go away when we buy it.

We know our depression won't be cured when we get it.

We know the unforgiveness, pain, brokenness and tears won't go away when we drive the car away.

Yet we keep doing it.

When we put Jesus in with all these things, as another means of 'making life better', then ultimately people won't be very interested because there are far sexier brands and products out there.  And those that have brought into Jesus on this basis will probably lose interest fairly quickly because Jesus turns out to be a bit of a disappointment when he doesn't make your life a dream to live and all your problems don't vanish.

I blogged before about our drinking culture which sits into this whole thing.  The quick fix of making life better.

Actually, all of this is about making life FEEL better.  So we feel better for a short time.

And the church can fall into the trap of making Jesus into a product that makes you feel better.

But this is not why Jesus came and this is not what Christianity is all about.

Jesus came and lived among us, died for us and rose again so that WE COULD KNOW GOD.

Knowing God.

That is the point.  That is the reason.  This why we exist.  This is the point of life.

So our drinking culture is probably so severe because we do not know God.  And in not knowing God we struggle to know ourselves.  And when we don't know ourselves, when we don't know the point of our lives and our own true identity, then we do what we can to make ourselves feel better.  And so how we feel becomes the most important thing.  I'm not saying feelings are not important, because they are.

Love, anger, pain, joy, sadness.  Feelings matter.

But if we rely on self-help, quick fix, feel better, then we will never know ourselves and our true identity.

And if the Church falls into the trap of trying to sell Christianity as a self-help product to be a part of this whole self-help brand, then we will fail.

But if the Church declares that humanity is called to know God, then that is a good thing.

And when we recognise that knowing God is the most important thing in life then we will see that who we are is defined by knowing Him.  And it is not to make life 'better', but rather gives meaning to life. In knowing God we will suffer.  In knowing God we will have pain.  In knowing God we will discover hope.  In knowing God we will one day be fully known.

And that really is something beautiful.

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