We live in a pragmatic culture. A thing's value is determined almost exclusively on the basis of whether or not it does what I want it to do. Will it increase my sense of well-being and pleasure? Will it advance my carreer? Will it make my kids obedient and happy? Will it make my spouse more responsive to my needs? These are the criteria by which modern consumers judge everything from restaurants, health clubs, neighborhoods, and religion. Knowing this reality, many within the church growth movement seek to appeal to today's consumers by promising a Jesus and a Christianity that will do all these things and more. "Does it work?" has replaced "Is it true?" as the key question.
As a result it has become all the more necessary to warn those who would come to Christ that they must come to Him as Savior and Lord not life coach, therapist, or guarantor of success. We must warn those who come to Christ for any other reason than forgiveness of sins and justification before God that Christianity does not work. Become a Christian and you may not be healed. Your marriage may not get fixed. Your children may not become well adjusted. You may still lose your job. Of course this will only matter to those who believe that loss of one's carreer is worse than loss of one's soul.
In his book Made In America Michael Horton writes:
"In The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis writes, 'Now that she was left alone with the children, she took no notice of either of them. And that was like her too. In Charn she had taken no notice of Polly (till the very end) because Digory was the one she wanted to make use of. Now that she had Uncle Andrew, she took no notice of Digory. I expect most witches are like that. They are not interested in things or people unless they can use them; they are terribly practical.' This sounds all too familiar when we think of how we view our relationship with God and others. We are all incredibly utilitarian...Like a new bug spray, God has to pass the test of utility for admission into the marketplace. How does God help me get what I want quickly, efficiently, easily, and with minimal cost?...
"In many ways, Christianity doesn't work. It has ruined some crafty businessmen like Zacchaeus, who, by becoming a Christian, ended up giving half of his estate to the poor and paying back those he had cheated four times the amount he had stolen.
"It is this God in whom a woman, Joni Eareckson Tada, placed her trust even though he had included in his mysterious plan a swimming accident that would leave her paralyzed. Without that tragedy, the contemporary Christian witness would be poorer. Not only did God not cancel the accident; he did not heal her, even after she sought healing earnestly."
It is true that Jesus sets us free indeed. It is true that Jesus gives us more than salvation at the end of time. Jesus gives life abundant while we are still south of heaven. But in the ears of the unconverted and, unfortunately, many of the converted this means health, wealth, and pleasant circumstances now. But Scripture and two thousand years worth of faithful Christian witness clearly contradict this. Jesus is not my vending machine nor is He God's customer service representative. He is my Savior. By His own perfect obedience, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection He has justified me before a holy God. Even now he prepares a place for me where I will dwell with him and the whole host of God's people in unspeakable joy. Whatever other blessings He grants me in this brief life, while certainly welcome, cannot compare to the glory to be revealed in the last day.
Take and Read:
When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada
Too Good to be True by Michael Horton
Deserted by God? by Sinclair Ferguson
Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb