Disney children’s series Muppet Babies tells the story of the legendary Muppets during their toddler years. In a recent episode, Gonzo decided to disguise himself by going to a royal ball disguised as a girl. When he later explained his decision to his friends, one of them assured him, “You are our friend, and we love you as you are.”
In other news, a Russian woman allegedly sued McDonald’s after claiming that seeing one of its cheeseburger ads caused her to break the Lenten fast. She accused the fast food chain of breaking consumer protection laws and insulting her religious feelings.
Right now you might be thinking, “There are surely more important stories in the news to discuss than this. ” And you’re right.
For example, on that day in 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first president in American history to resign. In other political news, Melissa DeRosa, senior assistant to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resigned her post last night, a week after a report from the state attorney general revealed the governor had harassed sexually eleven women.
Why, then, did I start this one today Daily article like I did? Because I have been in the ministry long enough to learn something about human nature: we are most interested in what touches us most.
If we were talking about the resignation of the current president rather than an event that occurred almost fifty years ago, it would obviously be different. If this Daily article had been written only for those in New York State, the order of the news discussed would have changed.
The axiom on which “the whole philosophy of Hell is based”
In Screwed letters, CS Lewis explains that “the whole philosophy of Hell rests on the recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing and, especially, that a self is not another self. My property is my property and your property is yours. What one wins, the other loses.
Socrates (470-399 BC) taught us that the path to wisdom is to “know yourself”. Not to “know God” or “to know the word of God”, nor “to know his community” or “to know his family”. From its time to ours, Western culture has focused on the individual as the centerpiece of reality.
The “philosophy of Hell” takes advantage of this existentialist worldview in two ways.
For non-Christians, the constant drumbeat of secular culture is that you don’t need Christ. Personal authenticity is the path to fulfillment, we are told. Whether it’s abortion or euthanasia, sexual orientation or gender identity, the message is the same: your body is yours and you do what you want with it. As long as you don’t hurt others (a claim tragically ignored by abortion advocates), you are free to do what makes you happy.
Why, then, would anyone want to hear a message that emphasizes that we are sinners in need of salvation and calls us to repentance, contrition, and submission to God? Why dress to go sing hymns and hear sermons in church? Since hell doesn’t appear anywhere on our list of top fears, why not live and let live?
Or our enemy would have us believe, until the day when it is too late to believe.
Satan’s strategy for Christians
For Christians, however, the devil’s strategy is somewhat different. If he cannot persuade us to reject Jesus, he will inspire us to serve our Savior on our terms. It’s always about us, it’s just that the “whole” includes God, at least as a means to our end.
Go to church to “get something out of it.” Start your day with prayer and Bible study so that God will bless you. Give God money for God to bless your money. This is how the “philosophy of Hell” wants us to serve Jesus in order to serve ourselves.
In contrast, the New Testament repeatedly and emphatically insists that the true Christian life is a life of Christ. by we. We are his body (1 Corinthians 12:27), the temple of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). The “riches of glory” of the Gospel mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
That is why we must be “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), to begin each day by yielding that day to the direction and power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Jesus literally wants to continue his earthly ministry through you and me. We are the visible extensions of his permanent presence in our world (Matthew 28:20).
Christians being empowered, directed and used by Christ is obviously the last thing the enemy wants. This is why he works so hard to convince us that it is about us when it is in fact about Jesus.
A brother ready to die for his sister
Why should we surrender our lives to Christ so that he can continue his ministry through us? Let’s end with two answers.
One: Jesus can do more in the world than us. Everyone you know needs a Great Physician, a Good Shepherd, an omnipotent Lord and King. When it works through us, everyone we serve benefits, in this life and in the next.
Of them: Jesus can do more with our life than us. He knows us better than we do and knows the best way our lives can fulfill their eternal purpose with real meaning. Submitting to Jesus doesn’t make us robots, it makes us partners with God. In a mysterious but very real incarnation way, he gives us back more than we could otherwise be while using us for more important purposes than we could ever serve without him.
This is how you can know you can trust him with your life: he gave his life for you (Romans 5: 8).
Last year, then six-year-old Bridger Walker saw a German Shepherd charge her younger sister, so he stood between her and the dog. He rescued her but suffered serious injuries to her face and head. A year later, Bridger is still recovering. He has a simple explanation for his bravery: “If anyone were to die, I thought it should be me.
Jesus died so you could live forever. He would do it again, just for you.
How are you going to respond to such love today?
REMARK: One of the things I love most about God is that he is not afraid of difficult questions. This means that you and I shouldn’t be afraid of them and their answers either. This is why I wrote the ninth volume of my series A Biblical Insight into the Difficult Questions. And that’s why I want to put a copy in your hands. Please request your copy today.