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Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Jesus My Therapist" Religion

Years ago I stepped into a large business complex. In the circular receptionist desk was a woman sitting in tears. Even though I was there to meet with someone else and have lunch with them, I walked up and asked her what was wrong. She began to pour out many of her life’s troubles, especially parental grief about wayward children. I looked down and on her desk was a Bible. I said something like, “well, you have a good book there.” She looked over at it and then sobbed, “No it’s not. It hasn’t helped me any.” I asked her what she meant, and then she dropped the bomb, “I was told that if I turn to Jesus, He would take care of all my troubles. And he hasn’t taken care of any of them!” Stunned, I stood there in silence a second and asked her, “Who told you that?” She looked up at me and said, “My minister.”

I have run into this catastrophic scene now a number of times and wonder, what’s wrong with us? How many times have you heard an “evangelism” pitch that ends with, “Trust in Jesus, and like I have, you’ll find that he solves all your troubles!” In sales terms, that’s called overselling the product, promising more than is really being offered.

Let’s be honest. Okay, let me be honest, Christianity has not solved all my troubles. Jesus has not made my life easier or necessarily happier. On the one hand, because of Jesus I had fairly significant bumps in my career road in the Air Force. I had to refuse to do certain things I was told behind closed doors to do, and my faith gave me no relief from difficulties. Because I became a Christian, my conscience has convicted and troubled me far more than it was troubled as a hormone-driven adolescent. I have had more mental turmoil because I have had to make harder choices in serious ethical situations. Choices that wouldn’t have been a problem before.

On the other hand, Christianity has restrained me from doing things that are destructive, things that I wanted to do, and therefore frustrated me and made me unhappy. It has put up barriers I have run into, that weren’t there before, giving me loads of headaches. Jesus has stepped in more than once (so to speak) to pull me up short as I plunged happily down paths that would have destroyed me and my family, pulling me away kicking and screaming.

This “Jesus My Therapist” religion that sells books and magnetically attracts masses needs to be tossed out on its ear. Jesus is not your therapist to soothe your every pain, affirm your lagging ego, and inflate your bank account with cash. But He is Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true Lord and Savior. He is the one we must all stand before so “that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5.10).

And if we come to Him, we will find that He is our peace with God, and that He, sometimes painfully, sets us on the right path to do the right things. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5.14-15).

And some of that living “no longer for themselves, but for Him” stuff will have a therapeutic effect as Jesus heals in us what is screwed up. Some of this new allegiance and new life direction will bring prosperity because we are finally able to financially flourish, since we're growing in moral business behavior with a good work ethic. Some of this new way of being human lifestyle will fix up what’s ailing in our family life. Nevertheless, these are not the reasons to embrace Christianity. The sole reason to believe in Jesus, to submit to Him and rely on Him, is because, through His life, death, resurrection, and enthronement at the Father’s right hand, He makes us right with God, and because He is now declared the Sovereign Lord of the world and will come to separate His loyal followers from those who resisted Him, opposed Him and His world rescue operation.

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1.3-5).
(Corrected and cleaned-up on 4 Jan. 2012, 1900 hours)

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