Christ and Coke
When I became a Christian at the age of about 15 (no, I can't remember the date or my age)... I was immediately... immediately!... infected with a virus. That virus I will call the "LaLa Virus". The LaLa virus basically makes you think that now that you are a Christian, everything is going to go better for you. You life will be easier and trouble-free, suffering-free, and pain-free, like La-La-Land. I remember our youth group singing along to the tune of the Coke commercial, "Things go better with Christ!" Uh huh! This virus is impervious to almost all kinds of treatment. It cannot be tolerated at all because even the smallest trace infects your whole system. It must be completely and totally eradicated. I remember questioning this in the past and being rebuked by another youth leader with the verse from Malachi 3:14 where the priests are chastised for saying, "It is vain to serve the Lord!" As I continued to grow up and as I allowed my eyes to actually see what they actually saw, I began to question just exactly what that verse meant. Surely it doesn't mean that there are tangible advantages to serving the Lord! When I was going through seminary, the alarming statistic was revealed that there was a higher rate of divorce among seminarians than others. Indeed, many of my friends have gone through horrendous pain and suffering in their marriages, jobs, relationships, bodies, and on and on. I look around me now and I have friends who serve the Lord who have cancer, ex-spouses, messed up children, debt, poverty, depression, hardships of all kinds, pain of all sorts. And these are just the people I know. Around the world, those who claim to follow Christ are sick, starving, suicidal, suffering, slowly dying. It isn't true that the life of a Christian has advantages. There is something else going on. I think seeing that the world is full of suffering and sorrow and admitting it is the first and most crucial step towards any kind of liberation. Yet still that virus persists! I still unconsciously hold to the wish that things go better with God. I don't believe it, but it's still there. I don't believe we get special favors. Not any more. As a pastor it often requires a brutal honesty with myself and with others to admit this. There's something else going on. A deeper truth. So even though the nasty virus still clings to me, I do believe it is on its last legs. The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Howard Nowlan.