19th century American Thinker David Thoreau once wrote, “The mass of men led lives of quiet desperation.” Thoreau offered a stark assessment of what was then contemporary life. When Thoreau looked out into the world around him, what he saw were too many of his peers leading frustrated, apathetic and fear-filled lives.
I think many of us would say something similar about people today, wouldn’t we?
I don’t think it takes much more than a quick trip down social media lane to see the alarming truth. Whenever I go on social media, I’m confronted by scores of people arguing with others they don’t actually know. Whether is politics, religion or even what color a dress is, people are bashing each other from the relative anonymity of their keyboards And if they’re not arguing, they’re lusting over the latest tech, the latest picture on Insta from a social media influencer or their next cure-all purchase from Amazon. And if they’re not arguing or lusting, their quaking in their boots about everything from who the next President will be to the coronavirus to all things in between.
And I wish I could come out here and say, “wow, those people, they just need to get a life” but the fact of the matter is “I am people, too.”
In fact, in a whole lot of ways, I’m just an overgrown kid. I think I realized this most powerfully when I was more disappointed by the closure of Toys R’ Us than were my own children. Y’all I wanted to put on sackcloth and ashes, I tell you what. I’m here to confess that my drift is to look for satisfaction in amusement. Give me ten minutes time and instead of doing something productive, `I’ll probably be devising a way to return to Disney World or purchase a VR headset to play games on or something of the ilk.
But I’m here to tell you, this drift I have towards making fun my highest priority has led me down some pretty dark roads. But it isn’t just me. I recall seeing a Grateful Dead documentary recently and one of his band mates talked about Jerry Garcia near the end of his life. After a big concert, Jerry was absolutely forlorn. When asked about it, Jerry made the wistful comment, “there’s nothing fun left to do in this world for me.” It wasn’t too long thereafter that Jerry returned to heroin abuse which contributed to his untimely death.
But, notice – Jesus doesn’t say to us, go out and have fun, collect a lot of things and all will be well with your soul. No, what we hear from Him is far from that. In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells us this - And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Now look, those are some amazingly awful words if your perception that life in Christ will be devoid of pleasure or fun.
In fact, for a great many years I avoided Christianity because I wrongly assumed that being baptized would come with a concomitant death knell of fun. Like in the name of eternal life, I was going to have to let go of an enjoyable life here and no. Friends, I am here to tell you, I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I look back on the nearly 20 years since I was baptized, what I’ve experienced is no different than most Christians discover. Life in Christ can be absolutely amazing.
This week I close off this three-part series on The Way, the truth and the life. We began the first week talking about the Way of Jesus Christ. Many of us wrongly think that this way must consist of a checklist, things we MUST do and not do or a set of instructions to be followed meticulously. But it isn’t. Simply put, the way of Jesus Christ is a direction, an orientation towards directing more and more of our energy towards Humility, Love and self-sacrifice.