Archives For fear

I suppose the word I’ve been dancing around is disappointment. We know that Jesus came not to make our lives better, but rather to give us better lives. Lives with purpose, meaning, depth, fulfillment. Yet we so often find ourselves frustrated, and dare I say disappointed. Because somewhere along the way we’ve heard that “God loves us, and has a wonderful plan for our lives.” While this is, in a certain sense, true, it also comes far short of the reality of walking with a God Who didn’t spare His own Son.

I mean we’re not stupid, right? We don’t like pain. And the message of the church, by and large, has been come to Christ, and He’ll solve all of your problems. As if. He came to solve the problem of sin, but this being a fallen world sin however is still very much with us.

Because we don’t embrace suffering as a path to enlightenment, because we buy into the lie that we can have it, we can have it now, there’s a great disconnect between our expectations and our experience. We should be farther along with the Lord, we shouldn’t still be struggling with _______.

Thus it is that we become discouraged, feeling like that Jesus hasn’t kept up His end. “I came that they might have life, and that more abundantly.” Where? Where is this abundant life He promised?

Could it be this is it? I sure hope the hell not. Where everyday is a struggle just to arise from bed, where there’s never enough rest, nor enough hours in the day to accomplish the things we want, and need, to do.

Why is everything a struggle?

Our best life now? Um, excuse me, but screw you Joel Osteen. Right in your lying mouth (metaphorically speaking). If your answer is that we don’t have faith, what of David, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus? Who were maltreated, abused, suffered, and died? And yet were most definitely approved of God.

What of the hall of faith in Hebrews 11? “Of whom the world was not worthy” is what is says there.

It seems to me that we’ve got it backwards. Jesus never lied, never pulled any punches, never truckled. If we’re disappointed in Him, we’re projecting, having believed lies.

We should be disappointed in ourselves for falling for it. Again.

For His is the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. We don’t like to hear that, but it’s indisputably, undeniably true.

What lies have you believed? What agreements–consciously, or otherwise–have you made with the other team?

What walls need to fall down in your life today?


Chad Jones
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If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you would have seen a recurring motif: that coming to Christ doesn’t necessarily make our lives better. Or that he even came to make this life better.

There is a prevailing wind of teaching–call it TBNinanity, BestLifeNowianity,  blab-it-grab-it-name-it-claim-it the 1st Church of the Bank of Heaven God’s blank checkianity–which has mass consumer appeal (especially) here in the United States. Point is, people like it when they’re told what they want to hear.

Or that they can tell God what they want, and He has to do it.

I don’t know about you, but my faith walk has never quite worked that way. I make my requests, but Father knows best. Plus a careful reading of scripture seems to bear out the notion that God’s favorites (if we may term them such) were the ones who suffered the most. Nobody likes pain, right? I don’t. Thus it is that a Christianity promising wealth and a life of health has great mass appeal.

The problem is that it’s just not true. I mean if God didn’t spare his own son, what should we reasonably expect? Look at Abraham: being called out, burying his father, burying Sarah, receiving a promise–but not its fulfillment. The Bible is replete with such stories. What I want is your story: how the world, the flesh, the devil, the prevailing wind of doctrine sold you a bill of goods–promised you a better life… When in reality God instead gave you a new life. How he didn’t in fact come make your life better, but rather to give you a better life. I want the honest account of how the rubber of your expecations met the road of life.

Please send your story to:

Chad Jones

My purpsoe here is to counteract the myth that coming to Christ makes everyhting better.

There’s a persistent misconception propagated by a certain segment of the church that coming to Christ will make our lives somehow better. This is a nice sentiment, and certainly a prima facie case can be made for its veracity.

There’s just one small problem:

It’s not true.

Jesus Himself said “In this world you shall have tribulation.” In other words, trouble. He promised us trouble. Not only this, but He also counsels us to “take up your cross, and follow me.” That doesn’t sound like much fun.

Elsewhere, we are told to “consider the cost,” “deny yourself,” and that we will be hated.

The fact is, Jesus never promised a best life now, but rather lives full of trouble, where we are often at odds with the world… and with ourselves. “The Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit.” Point is: being a Christian ain’t easy. In fact, it’s harder to believe than not to. It would be far easier to go along, to stop swimming against the stream–to surrender to the voices and vices clamoring for our attention.

But who else has the words of life?

To whom else may we turn?

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There’s no other. The world screams that this is too exclusive, and something in us wants to whisper consent: it is too exclusive–there’s got to be another way.

There isn’t.

The late, great Chesterton said it best [regarding Christianity], “God and man made it, and it is making me.” And that is our problem: we don’t want to be made, or re-made. We’re just fine thank-you very much. Which proves how not fine we are.

And how much, loath we are to admit it, just how much we need Jesus. Which is just where He confronts us: right in that place of need. But we don’t want to need. We’re strong, independent… and full of pride.

Just what, I wonder, is easy about confronting the pride inside? Yet this is what Christ requires: this unflinching look within. It’s… painful to say the least. And pain is the one thing we instinctually withdraw from–because that instinct counsels self-preservation. Which is what Jesus says will kill us: “He that saves his life shall lose it, but he that loses his life for My sake and the Gospel shall find it.”

We, as Jesus did for us, must give up that one thing which is most precious to us: our one and only life.”

And it hurts.

And it frequently does not make this life better. Because Jesus didn’t die to make this life better, but rather to give us a new life–one filled with live, yes. But one marked with sacrifice, denial, pain.

Much like His was.

Have you consider the cost?

I’ll give you the TL,DR (too long, didn’t read) now: I loved Paddington. Watching it, you’ll believe a bear can talk. It was by turns smart, charming, whimsical, and had just enough slapstick for the kids (and the kids at heart). It really is that rare live-action family film which rises to Pixar levels of quality.

The movie with a prolog showing an expedition to darkest Peru. It is here that an intrepid British explorer encounters the rarest of bears. As he’s leaving, he tells them that if they’re ever in London they should look him up… Forty years later, we see those bears–Pastuzo and Lucy raising their nephew, as yet unnamed.

Something happens which necessitates the sending of the young bear to London to find a forever family. He means well, doesn’t mean to be disruptive, just wants to fit in. But he is after all a bear in human society. He meets the Browns, who take him in, and comic misadventures follow.

Hugh Bonneville is a delight as the play-it-safe Mr. Brown, Nicole Kidman chews the scenery as film’s antagonist, and Peter Capaldi (the current Dr. Who) plays a nervous, nosy NIMBY (not in my backyard) with his usual flair and timing.

Since I don’t want to venture into spoiler territory here, I’ll say this: Paddington is a change agent. Sometimes (often), we get so comfortable in our safe lives we’re afraid to take risks. What Paddington tells is that life is not life without risks, that we need to sometimes embrace the disruption instead of eschewing it. Especially if if makes us uncomfortable.

I give Paddington two unreserved thumbs way up.

Have you seen Paddington? Are you you going to?

I Have Bad Breath, And You Don’t Smell So Good Yourself: A Post About Death

Have you noticed how sensitive to smells we are? How bad breath, for instance, is just so unignorable? Why is that? Or how about farts? Themselves, they are are a natural byproduct of both the digestive process, and the air we swallow while eating (or sleeping). Now digestion is an interesting thing: it is the breakdown of the food we eat into its nutritive components. Our bodies require fuel–air, water, food–to carry out the essential metabolic processes which keep them alive. Mechanical digestion begins in the mouth, where mastication (chewing) takes place. Salivary amylase begins the breakdown of starches. Protein digestion begins in the stomach with the release of gastric juices (nutrients are absorbed in our small intestines). Essentially, digestion is a form of decay. Foods are broken down into their component parts, which our bodies then absorb to build our cells.

The natural byproducts (besides both urine and feces) of digestion are often the gas of both burps (air and/or other gases we swallow), and farts. Not to mention halitosis (bad breath), which can be caused by the foods we eat and/or the presence of bacteria in our mouths. All of this is perfectly natural. Yet from a young age, we are often very uncomfortable with, or deeply offended by, these perfectly natural things.

Why is this?

I contend that on an instinctual level it reminds of something; namely, that we are dying. Our bodies, whether through bad breath, burps, farts, the smell of sweaty arm pits, defecation, etc., are constantly reminding us of our impending demise. Else why do these oh-so-natural processes often spark such revulsion and/or discomfiture in us? We don’t shower so much to clean up as to (for a time) wash off the offensive stench of decay which clings so readily to our bodies. We begin dying before we are even born. The byproducts of fetal digestion and cell devision are stored in our colons as meconium (the first poop). This process never stops until we breathe our last. And the bacteria which inhabit our guts, kept in check by living metabolic processes, have a field day after we expire.

This is entropy. Things wind down. “Things fall apart,” as Yeats said. “The center cannot hold.”

We were not originally made this way. Our forebears were not made to die, but chose death anyway. This is, as the Scripture declares, the legacy of the first Adam. Sin entered the world, and through sin, death. This is why, deep, deep down in our inmost beings these reminders of death offend us so:

Because we know were made for more; indeed were once more. We know that our bodies, essential as they are to life as we know it, are not our true selves. Our true selves are soul and spirit–that deep place within us where we commune with God. And someday–sooner or later–this inmost self shall return to God from whence it came.

“Death, thou shalt die.” In the meantime, pass the Beano.