I love driving on the left side of the road. After growing up in the USA, driving on the right side gets old. Everybody does it. There is no excitement.
On a recent trip to Ireland I got to indulge myself on the left side of the road. I zipped around country roads, crested one-lane mountain passes and navigated one-way streets in Dublin. It demanded constant attention to reverse my normal habits. I loved every minute, though my wife didn’t quite enjoy the intersections where I pulled up on the wrong side. Whoops.
You might think my love for the left side makes me a danger on American highways. When might I swerve to the other side to re-live the Irish countryside? But don’t worry. My love for the left side is limited. I’ve seen the disastrous consequences of going against the design. I’m not interested in a head-on collision.
Too bad we can’t see how all the substantive matters of life work the same way. There is a design. There is a good and a bad, a right and a wrong. Humanity was created to live a certain way. Defy the design, and you will only hurt yourself. And we have. We have followed our whims down some pretty dumb paths.
Maybe you believe all ways of living are just as good. Maybe you think Jesus is just some ancient religious guru trying to cramp your chosen lifestyle.
E. Stanley Jones wrote the most thought-provoking daily devotional I’ve ever read. My favorite entry is titled “Are we predestined to be Christians?” His main question is: “Are we predestined by the very nature of things to be Christian? And is that destiny not merely written in the Bible but written in us, in the very make-up of our being?” (The Way, pg. 7).
People have often mistaken Christianity as a religion imposed on humanity. When corrupted it certainly can be. Insofar as Christianity is extraneous rules and regulations for fitting into modern Christian culture, that is true. But insofar as Christianity represents the way of Jesus, the way God has designed life to be lived well, then it is no religion forced upon us to restrict our lives. Jesus’ way is not an imposition on life but rather the exposition of how to indulge life wisely.
Following Our Whims or Jesus’ Way
My greatest frustration in life is the battle between my personal whims and Jesus’ recommended ways. For example, as a man I’m physically attracted to every beautiful girl I see. As a husband I know acting on the attraction would destroy my marriage. As a father I know ditching my family to chase each beautiful girl decreases the likelihood of my kids succeeding. Following my whims is not the best way to live.
You want to know the most common factor behind prison inmates, poor education performance, teen drug use and mental health problems? Fatherlessness. I could follow my personal whim to chase some new woman, but I can’t change the way life is designed to work. My kids would suffer the consequences of defying God’s design. Jesus’ way of married parents committed to each other and their kids for life breeds life. Following your alternate ideas messes everyone up.
Meant to Be
Is everyone meant to be a Christian? If by Christian we mean religious, judgmental, busy on Sundays and with a bad taste in music, then no. But if we mean embracing the way Jesus recommended to live, then yes.
Think about your options. Following your own dumb ideas will only teach you how NOT to live. You can do that. Many people do. And they live frustrated with their life as if some external luck factor didn’t kick in.
You are free to go against the grain. I could easily choose to swerve across the road and pretend no consequences exist on the left side in the USA. But that decision will bump us toward death, not life.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 states it plainly. “God created humanity to live a certain way, but people have followed their own dumb ideas.” Jesus didn’t come to force us to join his religion. He didn’t come to impose rules on our lives because he thought we were having too much fun. He actually gave us a gift. As E. Stanley Jones reasons, “If the Way is imposed upon life, then it is a way; but if it is a revelation of life, of life itself, then it is the Way. If it is written in the Scriptures only, then it is a way. If it is written in the nature of reality and the Scriptures, then it is the Way.”
Jesus’ way is the way of life. All other ideas steal away your life. Whatever you must give up to follow Jesus is only that which subtracts from you. To dismiss his way would mean you give up everything that would add to you. We all are meant to embrace the way of Jesus.