“The Jesus Pill: Does Getting Saved Solve All Your Problems?”

“The Jesus Pill: Does Getting Saved Solve All Your Problems?” June 11, 2022

My client was in prison, addicted to drugs, and had reached out to my program for help. I met with him, and we discussed the change he wanted to see in his life. He wanted to get clean, and wanted sobriety. He wanted a new start and a new life. I told him I would join him in that vision for his future.

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“Only If He Receives Jesus…”

Later, with the client’s permission, I spoke with his mother on the phone. In an hour-long conversation, she told me several times that she was a licensed and ordained minister. She threw Bible verses like candy at a parade. Of course, she was concerned about her son’s well-being. I told her that I believed that if he was determined, his future would be better than his past. I hoped she would feel relieved, and that she would share the same hope.

Instead, she said, “Only if he receives Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior! There’s no hope without Jesus! I write him a letter every single week telling him he needs to repent of his sin and get saved.”

I tactfully changed the subject. First, it’s not my job to get into the weeds of people’s theology. Second, arguing wouldn’t do much good. She was clearly entrenched in her belief and comfortable pushing it on her son. She had no idea that in her forcefulness she was driving a wedge in their relationship.

 

The Jesus Pill

I wanted to tell her that Jesus is not a magical pill you swallow to make everything okay. I know plenty of Christians who struggle with active addiction, and a similar number of non-Christians who have gotten sober. Sure, the 12-step programs connect sobriety with a relationship with the God-of-your-understanding. But it’s terribly shortsighted to think that sobriety is only for Christians, or even only for theists. To say that things can only get better in his life when he receives Jesus as his Savior is to say that good things only happen to Christians, which is a ridiculous claim.

 

God Is Fair

Jesus said God makes the sunshine and the rainfall for both the righteous and the wicked (Matthew 5:45). Acts 10:34 says God is not a respecter of persons, meaning that God has no favorites. Good things happen to believers and unbelievers alike. Tragedy and struggle likewise come to the faithful and faithless. Plenty of people from every religion and no religion have achieved and maintained sobriety, gotten healthy, experienced positive relationships, and achieved success as they define it. Jesus is not a magic pill that makes everything better.

Whether discussing physical healing, life recovery after incarceration, financial success, or any other blessing, Christians often and unfortunately communicate to non-Christians that everything will be better once they take the Jesus pill. Following the path of Christ doesn’t mean health, wealth, and happiness. False promises of miracles set people up for disappointment and failure. Believers still experience pain and hardship once they come to a relationship with Christ.

 

What’s the Point?

You may ask, “If Jesus doesn’t solve all my problems, why become a Christian?”

 

  1. To expand love

Eventually, you realize that being a Christian isn’t about self-help. It’s about helping others. Following Jesus—acting like Jesus—means abandoning ego and grasping. It means exchanging these things for a life of service to others. A life like this glorifies God, which means expanding love in the universe.

 

  1. To experience heaven, not just “go to heaven”

Eventually, you realize being a Christian isn’t about going to heaven. It’s about bringing heaven here. In church we sing so many songs about heaven. It’s as if life is so difficult here on Earth that the best thing to do is focus on deferred pleasure. But the Christian life isn’t about waiting around until we die and get our heavenly reward. It’s about living joyfully today. With joy in your heart, no matter what difficulties you experience in the present, you can still have heaven in this moment. The Kingdom of heaven is at hand, Jesus said (Matthew 4:17). Not in the sweet by and by. Jesus is not a magic pill that takes away your problems. But his spirit provides the joy you need to face them.

 

  1. To transform

Eventually, you realize being a Christian isn’t just about finding joy and peace. It’s about becoming and being joy and peace. If Jesus is the incarnation of God, that means he didn’t simply find divine truth, but he embodied divine quality. In the same way, Jesus invites you not just to access peace and joy, but to literally become those divine qualities. This means a change of personality, not a change of circumstance.

 

Overcoming the World

If Jesus were a magic pill to make troubles disappear, he would have turned his scourge into flower petals and his cross into feathers. He would have dissolved his pain with a word and then preached a sermon about the eradication of life’s problems. But pain was part of Jesus’s experience. So as a Christian you can be sure it will be a part of yours. In John 16:33 NIV, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Overcoming the world doesn’t mean removing hardship. It means changing the heart and mind of the person who experiences that suffering.

The Bible never says if you want to live of trouble-free life or get victory over your problems, you need to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. It never claims that when a person becomes a Christian, things will suddenly get rosy. When Jesus says he has overcome the world, he doesn’t mean he will eradicate all your troubles. But through Jesus, you can know and expand love in the universe. You can experience heaven, now. And you can transform into a person of peace.

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