Welcome to the launch of a new blog series entitled “Liar”.
No, I’m not talking about what we regularly scream at our scales during weigh-ins. For the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the enemy of our souls, Satan, and some of his most common lies.
I know from talking with many of you, we are stuck in the same cycle of behavior. The same mistakes and failures, the same steps to repair the damage, a step forward into freedom and then, whoops! We fall into the same old mess again. Part of that, I’m afraid, is just being human. But part of this detrimental cycle could be that we aren’t getting at the root of some of our issues. Our behavior is a result of a belief about ourselves, each other, or God. What if the belief we are basing our decisions on isn’t the truth? What if we have fallen for a lie?
Satan is an expert at distorting God’s beautiful truth into a warped, twisted lie. He hisses his deception, mingling it with just enough truth to make us second guess ourselves, or worse yet, second guess God. A counterfeit is only good if it looks like the real thing and that’s what he does…he offers counterfeit solutions to God’s peace and love.
“He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
The only way to uncover a lie is to measure the beliefs we have built our lives upon against the unchanging Truth…God’s Word.
So let’s look at, what I believe, is a common lie too many of us have fallen for, myself included.
Lie Number #1: God’s Main Concern is My Happiness
Our culture has inundated us with the lie that it’s all about us. From coffee shops to restaurants to television commercials, we are constantly told, “Buy this product. You deserve it.” “You get it your way here.” “All that matters is what you want.” You, you, you. Me, me, me. The focus has become what makes each of us happy. This twisted theology has even crept into our Christian culture and bled all over what we read, what we hear on the radio and what we hear renown speakers of the day preach.
I believe God is delighted when His children are joyful, BUT it’s not His primary concern.
That sounds harsh, but it’s true. Let me explain.
Pretend you live on a dead end road. There is very little traffic and it’s not uncommon for the children on that road to ride their bikes out in the middle of the street, since the only cars who usually traverse the area belong to the parents who live there or the mailman. It’s a pleasant spring day and your son is happily riding his tricycle on the road, pumping his chubby little legs and grinning, proudly showing off his skills.
Then you hear it. The sound of car coming, way too loud. Way too fast. You look up to see a giant truck screaming down the street. Does the driver even see your son?
You yell, “Son, get off the road! A truck is coming!”
He frowns, intent on his play. “No! Don’t want to.”
Why doesn’t your son want to leave? Because he’s happy. He’s playing, enjoying life. He doesn’t see, or understand, the imminent danger about to befall him. So you have a choice. Do you choose your son’s happiness or his safety?
We would, of course, all choose to drag him off the road, despite his protests, before the speeding truck could hurt him. Would he be happy about it? No. But his happiness would not be our priority at that moment. His safety would be.
God wants you to be safe. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. A plan that He prepared before you were even born. His ultimate concern is seeing His plan worked out for His glory.
Here are several reasons why “God’s concern is my happiness” is a lie.
1) Oftentimes what makes me happy is not ultimately good for me.
Happiness is good when it’s within the confines of God’s will, but here’s the problem: sometimes what makes me happy is far outside of His will.
It makes me happy to guzzle down an entire carton of chocolate peanut butter ice cream, but boy, it’s not good for me. It fills me with happiness to wear new outfits, even if that means I’ve over spent and made my credit card weep for mercy.
I conducted a social media poll to ask my friends what things made them happy, even though it might not be good for them. Here were some of their responses:
“Watching television for hours.”
“Laying in a tanning bed.”
“Eating obscene amounts of chocolate.”
“Staying in bed all day.”
You get the idea. Without God-defined boundaries in our lives, happiness turns into excess, which turns into a out-of-control life.
2) Suffering, or the refining process, is vital for growth in the Christian life. It’s also uncomfortable and can be painful.
What happens to a pond where the water never moves? Yeah, it gets scummy. To grow into the image of Christ, we cannot stay in a perpetual fog of self-induced bliss, like a doped up bear at the zoo. I think you and I would both agree we are not yet molded perfectly into the image of Christ, which means we have some changing to do. Change, by definition, means something will have to become different. We cannot stay the same. We have to allow God to stretch us. Stretching is uncomfortable, even painful.
When in doubt, I continually return to this pivotal verse Jesus gave to those who wanted to follow Him:
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” ~Luke 9:23
Nothing about personal happiness in there. Quite the opposite, in fact. Don’t get me wrong. There is joy, tremendous joy in giving your life away and following Christ. And the happiness we’ll have beyond this life is incomparable to anything we have here. But what most of us consider happiness, the temporary pleasure of this life, cannot be grasped if we are taking up a cross. It’s hard to a carry a cross if you don’t like to be uncomfortable.
3) True blessings like the ones Jesus spoke of had nothing to do with possessions, material wealth, career success or the like.
From His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the blessed were those who mourned, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted. Nothing about personal happiness or financial success in there. You won’t find any verses about God’s will for his children to climb the ladder of accomplishments or to be comfortable.
God is not nearly so concerned with our happiness, or even getting us out of our current circumstances, as He is in transforming us into the image of His Son through our circumstances. His goal is His glory for His great Name.
My friends, we’ve been lied to. It’s time to trade the pursuit for temporary happiness and instead pursue the eternal joy that is found when we choose to give our lives away and fall at the feet of Jesus.
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” ~Micah 6:8
God loves you. He loves you so much He died for you, and He loves you too much to let you dabble with things that will destroy you, or let you be less than the glorious plan He intended for you. Don’t listen to the lie. Choose life.