Shopping for Confirmation cards, I noticed that a certain Bible verse is very popular: 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, right? We latch onto those thoughts and a few minutes later they’ve morphed just a bit. Before you know it we’re thinking: God wants the best for me. Here, give me a pencil and I’ll order up the things I’d like best. I’ll make a list and call it prayer. And God, please take notice of the diseases I don’t intend to suffer. No harm, right?
I heard Donald Miller speak at Messiah College recently. He mentioned how the culture of advertisement 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. When we expect Jesus to measure up to our expectations (shaped by a culture of advertisement), sooner or later we are disappointed. Jesus doesn’t deliver in a shiny way. But why do we expect him to?
We’ve absorbed the messages of our culture. We think that the Good News is that we’re special and deserve a certain level of comfort. It’s the prosperity gospel all over again, a gospel that is no gospel. It isn’t good news, it holds no truth, and it plain old makes Jesus sad.