Friday, November 27, 2015

The Deception of Ease: Reflections on Jeremiah 44:11-19

Far too often Christians offer Jesus as a solution to problems he never promised to fix:

Come to Jesus and your financial problems will disappear.  Come to Jesus and you'll get a job, find the spouse of your dreams, and be able to have children.  Come to Jesus and you won't be homeless anymore or your debt burden will go away. 

They make Jesus into a genie, but he grants as many wishes as we can dream; none of this silly limit of three.

But, what if things get worse when they come to Jesus?  What if their debt increases, their fiance breaks off the engagement, the infertility of continues, and the homeless man gets kicked out of the shelter?  If we make promises Jesus never offered, then their natural response will be, "I'm not any better off with Jesus than I was without him?"

That's what the people of Jeremiah's day were asking.  In chapter 44 Jeremiah rebukes God's people who were exiled to Egypt because they were worshiping the"queen of heaven."  He warns them that God intended to punish them for turning away from him and looking to this so called, "queen of heaven."

Their response?  Verses 16-17, "We will not listen to you, but we will do everything we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven."

Why did they refuse to listen?  Because, life was easier when they worshiped the queen.  Verses 17-18, "for then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But, since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven . . . we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and famine."

They were going to do whatever they thought made their life easier.  It didn't matter to them if it was the queen of heaven, Yahweh, or Thor.  They just wanted things to be easy.

When all we offer with Jesus is a life of ease, we're placing him on an equal playing field with everybody else that makes the same offer.  And, if someone else works, then they should follow them.  Devotion becomes nothing more than pragmatism.

But, Jesus offers something greater and exponentially more glorious than being able to pay our bills. So, let's not reduce him to a glorified genie.  He offers us perfect joy and satisfaction in him for all eternity instead of the eternal condemnation we all deserve.  Furthermore, the path to the eternal joy may be filled with suffering and trials to get our eyes off the stuff of this world and on the glory of Jesus.

So, when we share the gospel or lead someone in discipleship, don't promise what Jesus doesn't.  The promises Jesus made are glorious in and of themselves - don't try to make them better.  You can't.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

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