Updated: Apr 8
2 Timothy 3:1-2
By Drew Zuverink
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves..."
We all want to be happy don't we? To feel at peace on the inside, contentment, joy, fulfillment - all of those things. All human beings share this common goal, but we try all sorts of different approaches to try and reach it. This begs the question, "Are all of our approaches towards fulfillment and inner peace actually able to get us there?" Is it possible that some of us think we are on a path towards happiness, when in reality, that path can never bring us there? It's a sobering thought, but the tragic truth is that many American's are pursuing life through a means that might actually bring about their death.
I suppose one thing that all humans share in common is a desire to rebel against the rules. As children we view our parents as being a drag when they place restrictions on us. We want to do what we want to do and sometimes, when a rule is standing in the way of what we want to do, that rule is seen as the one thing standing in-between me and true happiness. Since God has many rules, he is often viewed as someone who stands in the way of our freedom. Unfortunately, there has been a movement spreading across America, that teaches the way to true happiness is found in shedding all of those "old fashioned rules." Some believe that happiness is always doing what you want to do. Essentially, in this way of thinking, the individual becomes a god. Whatever I desire is supreme, and no one else has the right to tell me that it's wrong.
This movement offers people a new god to worship and a new religion to follow, one that is completely free from rules. It's called; the god of me. Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Freedom to step outside of the rules and to pursue whatever it is that your heart desires? I get the appeal, but does it actually lead to happiness and fulfillment?
Based upon the spike in anxiety and depression among young people today, I believe the answer is a strong NO. Suicide rates for young people between the ages of 15-19, has sky rocketed 76% in the past 15 years, and according to the CDC, suicide is now a leading cause of death in the United States. Tragically, a suicide occurs every 11 minutes.
Pursuing our desires without proper restrictions will actually lead us into becoming a slave to our desires. The god of me is actually a very cruel master, some might call him a murderer. By encouraging people to live in order to please themselves, he is able to eventually drag them into dark places filled with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. By masquerading as a god of light, he lures them into utter darkness. The saddest part is that by believing that freedom is found in pursuing our desires, many people continue further and further into that darkness until one day they decide to end their life.
The Christian religion offers a different path to fulfillment. Instead of looking deeper within ourselves for healing, we believe that the answer is to look outside of ourselves. Christian's believe that true freedom is not found in casting off all restrictions, but it is actually found in a relationship with Jesus Christ who gives us healthy boundaries. Jesus says in John chapter 10 that he has come so that we can have life to the full. The first part of experiencing life to the full is to enter into a relationship with Jesus. We are all sinful and broken people living in a sinful and broken world, and sin has separated us from a Holy God. But God in his mercy, made a way, through Jesus Christ, for us to be reconciled to him. Instead of pursuing all of our sinful desires, God commands us to forsake them and turn to him for forgiveness, and to place our lives under his direction and not our own. Receiving God's forgiveness brings about an inner healing that no desire ever could. And once we have been made right with God, he places healthy boundaries upon our life. If we play within those boundaries, we will experience joy that we never thought possible.
You and I were never meant to have ultimate authority over our lives. We are creatures, God is the creator. Part of what it means to be God is his authority over his created beings and part of what it means to be human is to submit to a higher power. When those relationships are made right, freedom ensues. When we try to usurp our role as creatures, wanting to become our ultimate authority, well, let's just say we make terrible gods.
I know that at first, choosing to follow the god of me seems tempting. After all, we humans have a strange relationship with rules. It is tempting to fall into the trap of believing that there are too many enjoyable things in this world to be limited by God's rules. But where there are no rules, there is no freedom. It's a simple but profound truth; if you want to make yourself miserable just live to please yourself. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. If our guide in life is our own heart, we will lead ourselves into darkness, but if we turn to Jesus for direction, submitting to his leadership, we will live life to the full.