Sunday, January 25, 2009

Something's Missing

"And I don't know how to fix it" -John Mayer, Something's Missing

Earlier this month, the British Humanist Association launched a campaign with banners on the side of buses saying "There's Probably No God. So Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life" implying that a life of faith can't be enjoyed. The numbers support this I guess. According to the speech kicking off the campaign, polls show 30-40% of people in the UK and 60-65% of youth are "non-religious" again implying that 60-70% of everyone else and 35-40% of their kids must be miserable. Of course that's not their message. Much like the statement in the Washington State capital during Christmas, the message is that it's ok to not be religious.

But it's the implication of a miserable existence for the religious that really gets me. We don't do any favors by projecting an image of super-piety by planting hedges around our convictions. Perhaps you can relate to some of these: no dancing, women can't wear pants and skirts have to be a certain length, rock and roll is from the devil, et cetera, et cetera. My favorite example of this is the character of Ned Flanders in The Simpsons. He's about as religious as anyone can be and while he's far from miserable (okely-dokely!), the lifestyle he portrays is far from attractive to a non-believer. In one episode, he offers the Simpson kids "nachos, Flanders style!" which consist of Ritz crackers, cottage cheese, and a slice of cucumber. He doesn't carry insurance because he considers it a form of gambling.

Is Ned Flanders an accurate depiction of a Christian? In some circles, sadly he is. But I don't think this is what Jesus intended. "I came that they may have life, and have it to the full." (Jn 10:10) Earlier in the Gospel of John we're told this about Jesus, "from the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." (Jn 1:16) Peter wrote that, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness." (2 Pt 1:3) Psalm 103 reminds us that the LORD "satisfies your desires with good things." (Ps 103:5) The psalmist also tells us that if you "delight yourself in the LORD, he will give you the desires of your heart." (Ps 37:4)

That all sounds nice, but what does it look like in our lives? I believe what Paul wrote of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 describes what this should look like. "[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal 5:22-23) Love, joy peace, patience, kindness... does that sound like a miserable life to you? Isn't this the life that Jesus promised us when he set us free from the slavery of our sinful nature? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. From this list, is there anything missing that you'd want more?

No, if you reject God you can't relax and "enjoy life" because you can't have the above without Him. And without the sacrifice of Jesus as God's only Son, both human and divine, not only can we not have those fruits of the Spirit but we are also destined to a life enslaved to sin. And that is worth worrying about.

No comments: