Shopping for Confirmation cards, I noticedÂ that a certain Bible verse is very popular:Â Jeremiah 29:11: For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
That’s a nice one,Â right? We latch onto those thoughts and a few minutes later they’ve morphed just a bit.Â Before you know it we’re thinking: God wants the best for me.Â Here, give meÂ a pencil and I’llÂ order up the thingsÂ I’d likeÂ best.Â I’ll make a list and call it prayer.Â And God, please take notice of the diseases I don’t intend to suffer. No harm, right?
I heard Donald MillerÂ speak at Messiah College recently.Â He mentioned how the culture of advertisementÂ distorts our hearing of the gospel. Here’s how he put it: People leave the church because Christian culture overlays the facts of the Christian story onto the narrative of advertisement. Inevitably, this results in disillusionment.
I say Amen.Â When weÂ expectÂ Jesus to measure up to our expectations (shaped byÂ a culture of advertisement),Â sooner or later we are disappointed. JesusÂ doesn’t deliver in a shiny way. But why do we expect himÂ to?
We’ve absorbed the messages of our culture. We think that the Good News is thatÂ we’re special and deserveÂ a certain level of comfort. It’s the prosperity gospel all over again,Â a gospel that is no gospel. It isn’t good news,Â it holds no truth,Â and it plain old makes Jesus sad.