In a previous post, I wrote, “If we don’t have Jesus as our ultimate example then we are susceptible to any version of Christianity that fits our personal preferences and often requires very little of us.” I thought I would expand on this thought a bit.
First, what do I mean about being susceptible to “any version of Christianity that fits our personal preferences?”
We are in an age of personal preferences; where every aspect of our day can be designed and modified to our liking and choice. This is wonderful in many ways but when we begin to approach our spiritual life with this mindset then we are creating a world that is our own making and not one that might actually be better for us and allow us to Grow Up.
Those who have been in any kind of community, like a church, know that it doesn’t take long for personal preferences to start to surface, not as the minor issues that they often are, but as the seeds of disgruntlement, conflict, division, and animosity. We all have personal preferences, God designed us to be unique individuals with unique likes and dislikes but these preferences were never meant to overshadow and replace the vision and mission that Christ established for his followers.
I may have a preference for a type of song or instrumentation; I may prefer a verse by verse preaching style; I may think that skinny jeans should never be worn behind a pulpit. But none of those things should be set before my need to worship, our obligation to serve and love one another, and the command to spread God’s kingdom into all aspects of life. You see, personal preferences serve the individual but not Jesus. In our day and time, to lessen our personal preferences for the sake of a higher calling is seen as strange rather than the other way around. This cannot be.
Also, since indulging our personal preferences is the Spirit of the Age, we are not normally going to choose a path of much resistance. Humans naturally choose a way that requires the least effort. Our minds are experts at telling us, in a thousand different ways, how we can get by with the most by doing the least. This is a recipe for shallow and immature Christians that are powerless against the winds and waves of modern society and Satan’s deceitful tricks.
For these reasons, Jesus has to be our prime example of the good life. His loving example has to be what we strive for. If Jesus is who he says he is then why would we choose any other way?
But this isn’t easy. His example is self sacrificial, involves cross bearing, and can lead to persecution so why would we choose the Jesus way instead of a way that fits our wants and makes life easy for us? Because there is no life in our own way, only momentary victories and pleasantries. There is no abundant life like Jesus promised. There isn’t power to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. There isn’t forgiveness and mercy and joy; just vain attempts to get what we want shrouded in religious speak and dressed up self righteousness. Our way, with our preferences and our obsession with ease, is a dead end.
There used to be an old song that had the refrain, “I’d rather have Jesus…” If that is not our response in all aspects of our life then you and I have work to do in Growing Up.