“I am a Christian and I am miserable.”
“I try to be a good person. I read my Bible when I can, go to church on Sundays, and pray more than most people. I don’t sleep around, get drunk, or do drugs. I try to be a good student and a good friend. I’m doing my best."
"But I look around me on a Friday night, when most of the people I know are out downing shots and having wild sex and I’m stuck in my dorm room watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother, and I feel lonely and inadequate, like I’m not the kind of person who knows how to have a good time. I listen to my peers and classmates talk about their relationships and sexual experiences without any guilt or shame, and I wonder how that must feel. Everywhere I look, I see non-Christians who are happier, prettier, and more popular than me."
"I know God is supposed to be enough and that He’s supposed to sustain me completely. But if this is true, why am I not happy? Where is God? Why isn’t He satisfying me?”
|Great question...hmmm...I'll get back to you...yeah...time for my lunch break...|
Have you ever wondered why we Christians seem to be such a miserable bunch? It seems that we’re always the ones standing in the back room while the non-Christians take center stage and look so damn good doing it. We are often the lonely ones, the outcasts, the guilt-ridden and unsatisfied and restless, the rebels-without-a-cause.
And Jesus tells us that He is enough? That He is everything? “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given to you besides.” “I tell you, not one of you who has given up wives and brothers and sisters and houses and property for My sake will not receive it back a hundredfold.” “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give to you.”
Oh yeah? Well, where is all this peace and love and hippie stuff? Where is the water that will make us never be thirsty again? Where is the comfort, the companionship, the love? Why do we pick up our Bibles and feel nothing? Why do we go to church and fall asleep in the pew? Why do we observe the law of God and feel awful while watching everyone else break God’s law and have a helluva good time?
I was holding all of this in my heart as I went on a retreat this weekend. During one of the praise and worship sessions, I really let Jesus have it. I read Him the riot act. And this answer came back: “You have never given Me a chance to show you that I am enough.”
Then the pastor of this church came up to the altar and gave a little sermon about idols. As he defined it, idols are anything in our lives that we turn to for comfort instead of turning to God. As he said this, my heart nearly exploded: I realized that Jesus hadn’t been able to satisfy me because I still had a bunch of crap in the way of Him getting through to me. I hadn’t done MY part of the bargain. How could I expect Jesus to make me happy if I never read my Bible, never gave much thought to prayer, and basically ignored Him throughout most of my day? I was screaming at Him to unlock the door, but I was holding on to the only key. Slapindaface!
Yeah, I was pretty shook up too.
The fact, my friends, is this: God does not want us to be miserable Christians. He’s literally dying to satisfy us and make us happy, but He can’t do a damn thing if we don’t give Him the keys and melt the golden calf of our idols, whatever they may be. For me, turning to television and objectifying men were the ways I sought comfort when the whole Jesus thing wasn’t working. I would tell God how much I wanted Him in my life, but I still had a backup plan just in case. I would read my Bible for five minutes, feel nothing, and watch Hawaii Five-O for an hour instead. And then I would whine that Jesus wasn’t keeping His end of the bargain? I can’t imagine the amount of divine face-palms.
But guess what? This is what Lent is for, a time to prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths. Jesus can’t hug you if you have your arms around something (or someone) else. He is longing to be enough for you, if you would only let Him.
This Lent, stop whining. Stop being a grumpy Christian. Clean out the closet of your life and let Jesus love you. It is a slow and painful process, but when we realize that He really is everything we could ever hope for, we will never want to go back. We will be able to find peace and not be jealous of others who seem to be having such a peachy time without God. And we’ll realize that Neal Patrick Harris is a poor substitute for the Divine Savior.