For Joy’s Sake

Christians should never be motivated by hate and ideally do nothing we do not wish to do. If God’s will is our will, then evil is no temptation. It is the rubble of our lives that gets in the way of this happy reality. Some destruction comes from without from other hurting people who lash out and cause us pain. Most failure to live in reality comes from our own unwillingness to leave our decaying ghettos of vice and move into the better world God makes for us.

We fear that if we lose the old gods, however vile they may have been, we will lose the old pleasures, all to rare but real, that worship of any god brings. We refuse to destroy the idols of our making, wealth, power, desire, because they are the only gods we have known. And yet, and yet, even that truth is too glummy.

There is victory in Jesus.

Whatever a Christian does, even combatting evil, must be fundamentally from love with joy. If we must oppose evil, it is regretfully, because fights turn us from the main tasks: worshipping God and enjoying Him forever.  He is a good Father who will fulfill every desire, every dream, but in the way that harms nobody and helps everyone.

Goodness, Truth, and Beauty will gain glory by every action He commands.

Meanwhile, we feel miserable,  or at least I often feel miserable, because looking at reality is easy, Jesus is good and virtue triumphs, and I flee from ease. Why? Perhaps, I think I must work harder to get these good gifts, but mostly it is because the old idols have their charms.

Any idol is a creation and any creation has a bit of reality to it. An idol is a good thing distorted by being placed higher than it should be in my life, but it still retains much of the good. My particular Baal, say food, comforts me, because one thing food does is comfort. The comfort is good, but organizing my life around eating, finding comfort only or mainly in food, is not.

What do I do with the fact that such idols always tempt me even when I know better? The early mothers and fathers of the church were wise here. They knew that reality was joyful, but our desires broken. They knew that forgiveness was immediate in Jesus, but also endured. Our slave habits, and every idol makes a man a slave, take a lifetime to break.

But this is good news and not bad news: we can find freedom, however slowly, and be more liberated today than we were yesterday if we turn from the false idols of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. This makes me want to sing, and since nobody is in the office at the moment, I shall: “Amazing grace. . . ”

Amazing. Joyful. Real.


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