Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Gospel of Personal Happiness

I was drinking coffee with my friend Jeff last night, and we ended up talking about one of my "favorite" authors, who was in town last week. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see John Eldredge, because his event was sold out.
Our discussion, though, was really about discipleship, how we are called to deny ourselves and give up our preferences and desires to follow Jesus. I didn't say that, Jesus did (Luke 14.25-33) - though I wish He hadn't. The issue, then, is not, "What is my passion?" or "What do I really want to do?". Rather, the demand of Christ is that we follow Him. Too often, we try to lead, deciding where we want to go and then asking God to bless us in our endeavor. "In Jesus' name," no less. It seems to me that Eldredge (and many others, including myself all too often) gets this exactly backwards.
Of course, I do believe that God gifts us and prepares us for particular places of ministry. But the command in Matthew 28 to carry the Gospel to those who don't know Christ and to make disciples of them is not negotiable. The only question is how God intends for us to do that.
On my drive home, I was listening to an interview and heard the following. I think it's a good descriptor of much of American Christianity, where Jesus becomes all about meeting my needs and helping me live a better life. He's my friend, and even my Savior, and boy does He add a lot to my life, but I'm not his disciple.
“We embrace the gospel of personal happiness, defined as the unbridled pursuit of impulse, yet we remain profoundly unhappy.”

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, in her introduction to Philip Rieff’s "The Triumph of the Therapeutic"

1 comment:

  1. hmmmm. you should post your article inside of google docs, make it public and create a link to it from your blog....word up.