Our society today has such a twisted view of Jesus, and a lot of it is because of how twisted todays christians are – we are drowning in a “Me First” mindset. Everyone is looking out for themselves… for what they can get. Our society has adopted a “whats in it for me” mindset that says: “if I join this church what will they do for me?” “if I give up my bad habits and sinning, what am I going to get?” “if I tithe, God will give me more back right?” “if I follow the rules and do good, whats in it for me?” Along with twisting scripture and grace to suit sinful desires, “God wants me happy, he wouldn’t want me to stay with my wife, I am miserable!” “Sure I cheated and stole, but I just have to ask for forgiveness and its ok.” And dont get me started on all of the “She cant possibly be a christian because she cussed on facebook/had an affair/is divorced/is on drugs…” or more recently one I am seeing is the whole “a real Christian wouldn’t watch 50 shades of Grey. You must be ashamed!” I feel incredibly frustrated sometimes looking at Facebook or other social media and reading all the hypocrisy and judgments from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I myself have been guilty of the same… pointing my judgmental finger at others when I should be asking God to help me love on others, and to change my stony and mean heart. Oftentimes I believe we start out with good intentions, only to lose our way trying to accomplish OUR goals and prove OUR point.
The truth is, we can’t fight fire with fire, or hate with hate. We can’t bully and browbeat people into following and loving Jesus. We can, however, walk in love and show them what loving and following Jesus looks like. We can show by our actions how good Jesus is. He is not a car we have to sell to people to meet our quota in order to get into heaven and earn salvation. God does not need a defender, He spoke the world into existence!
As disciples we need to realize it is not about us, and we need get off our high horses and get down in the pit, like Jesus did, and take care of each other. We can stop pretending to not be broken, when in some way we are ALL broken. We need to go where we are called, and and walk the path He has laid for us. Not because we want to get things or we think that by doing so our life will magically become easy and we will never experiance hard times or feel saddness, but because we are madly in love with Jesus. No where in the Bible does Jesus promise us that we will have plenty of money, an easy life, or
total happiness when we follow Him. No where. In fact, quite the opposite. He plainly states that by following Him we will come against opposition and persecution. We WILL have hard times… really really hard times. He is not a genie here to grant our wishes. He is the God of the Universe, and we should be serving HIM. Not expecting Him to serve us.
Here are 5 things I do not get from being madly in love with Jesus, and why I believe I am better off this way.
1. Total happiness:
Happiness is an emotion and is fleeting. Oftentimes what makes us happy in the moment ends up hurting us later. Following our heart can be so detrimental to the point it causes serious damage. Sure it may feel good to numb out, shop away a paycheck, sleep with that guy because he “loves me”, “or spend an evening drinking to excess with friends, but how many of us, myself included, have woke up the next day miserable, broke, hungover, full of regret and misery? I’m willing to bet everyone I know has experienced this in one form or another. Just because it feels good in the moment does not mean it is good. Jesus never ever ever said He wants us to be happy. If someone tries to tell you that, they are lying. But here is the good news… you CAN have a spirit of joy. Even during hard times. Joy is different. You can stop trying so hard to fill that void and be happy, and fall in love with Jesus and experience JOY. Even in the midst of a storm. We will learn that joy, unlike happiness does not depend on our circumstances (Psalm 27:5-7) and that, dear friends, is better than fleeting happiness any day.
2. Total control.
So many of us struggle with control, for myself this has been a personal struggle for me for a long time. My search for control over every aspect of my life has generally left me feeling defeated, because so few things are actually in my control. Don’t get confused here, we all have free will. But when trying to make everything go exactly the way I think it should, I usually wind up further back than I was when I started. That’s something I love about Jesus. He will never give us something or send us somewhere that will leave us feeling broken, shamed, or full of regret. As cynical humans we fear letting someone else have control. Maybe we have learned the hard way to not let others control us for fear they will just hurt us. And of course we should NOT let another broken and imperfect human control us and our lives. That would cause so much devastation. But see Jesus is all good, all loving, and all powerful. I have seen how my life is when I struggle for the controls all the time, and I’m so thankful I handed them over to Jesus. I will go where He asks me to go. I will do what He asks me to do. First because I know that He is madly in love with me, and second because He is my savior. And He knows what’s best. This doesn’t mean it is always easy. Sometimes He asks me to do really hard things. But the best things in life are rarely easy. Jesus has a plan for my life (and yours! ) a plan that will far exceed my own, a plan that is good and hopeful. (Jeremiah 29:11) If I don’t follow His lead I will never see his plan blossom.
3. Personal glory.
I no longer do things for the Glory I get and I no longer take glory for things that God has done for me. Falling in love with Jesus changed my life. Not just slight changes, but extreme changes. Slowly I started to heal, I started to see things differently and do things differently. It wasnt just my circumstances that changed. My heart changed. I had tried for many years to stop using drugs, to hold a job, to live “right” and failed miserably each and every time, to the point where I was broken beyond any human repair. I had lost everything, and could no longer pretend to be ok. So I cried out to Jesus, not really understanding what I was seeking, not knowing anything about Jesus. But at that point I didn’t need to know Him. He knew me. He loved me. In just a few short years I have a job I love, my son is healthy and thriving, I have close friendships, a renewed bond with my parents and sister, and a husband that I am madly in love with. But here is the thing. I did not do any of that. When I was trying to control my life I ended up making one bad decision after another. It was not until I quit struggling, admitted I was a broken mess, and gave my heart to Christ that things started changing. God did that for me, and He did it so that through my life, my heart, and my testimony people would come to meet and fall in love with Him. It’s not about me. And it’s not about you. It’s about God’s glory. God equips us with strengths and gifts, not so we can say, “Hey look what I did!” But so we can glorify Him with what He has done for us. (1 Peter 4:11)
Pride is a dangerous thing. It is defined as “Deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from ones own achievements, a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, superiority.” Another definition reads, “A lofty and arrogant assumption of one’s own appearance, advantages, achievements, etc.”
Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace.” It’s not about US! It ceases to be about us when we give up our hearts and fall in love with Jesus. And I have to say that I am very grateful. Jesus won’t fail. He Can’t Fail. Unlike myself, I fail all the time. We have to understand that we are not better than anyone else, no matter how good looking we are, how much money we have, or how many letters are behind our name. We all come into this world the same way and we all leave the same way; and nothing you possess is going with you. We cant buy our way in to heaven, and no amount of education or good deeds will earn us salvation. This is not to say there is nothing wrong with being educated. The issue is when we become vain and conceited about it, raising ourselves above others, acting and feeling more important than others. Jesus asks us to be humble. To not act on rivalry or pride, but to care and value other people above ourselves. (Phil 2:3) As God’s people we are not called to lift ourselves up and be conceited. We are called to be wise and understanding, and to prove it by the way we treat each other and the things we do. (James 3:13).
5. A problem free life.
So many times I have heard people complain and say that there must not be a God, and if there is and He is indeed a Good God than why does He allow all the tragedies in this world. As followers, we have no problem praising God when life is good and things are smooth, but when things go wrong and we are faced with problems we begin to question, to worry, to panic and to cry out, to feel forsaken. We wonder if He has forgotten us and we doubt His love for us. Too easily we forget that God never promises us a problem free life, and in fact quite the opposite. Jesus told his disciples that they would face oppression and persecution for following Him. Throughout the entire Bible there are scriptures that talk about troubles and hard times coming our way. But it doesn’t stop there. Through scripture God shows us how to navigate the storms and promises that if we look for Him we will find Him. Who should we be afraid of, when the God of the universe is beside us?
Romans 5:3-5 says “we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the holy spirit.” And Psalm 27:1-3 says, “the Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” And 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
There are so many scriptures to encourage us and give us hope when things are hard. To remind us that God has not abandoned us, we simply need to lean into him, read His word, and pray unceasingly. Everyone has problems, but with Jesus, we are offered peace and hope. No matter what the circumstance may be. The things of this world are temporary and fleeting. Our circumstances will pass, after each valley is a mountain. We have a decision to make. Who are we going to live for? Who are we going to trust, not only when things are awesome, but also when things are falling apart? And through it all, who are we going to serve?