We Make too Much of this Poor Life
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals.” – Psalm 146:3
Jesus is demanding. Grace brings stitches, but it will cut you first. So we look for God in easier places.
Liberals find God in natural beauty, as if the One walking toward Golgotha and my lakeside vacation are the same. We’ve made God so tame.
Conservatives find God in the Bible, as if they could smell His breath by getting close enough.
In both cases we take something controllable and turn it into God. We aren’t two camps. We’re two wings on the same bird, flying away from Christ and his intensity.
God is not scripture, creation, politics, success, pleasure, beauty, art, church, family, the pursuit of social justice, or anything else that we grant ultimate significance. None of those things are God.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful. Smart people worship good idols. But even the best false god gets crushed when saddled with colossal expectations. There is love that only God can give. My family is too frail to carry it.
Name what you’ve made more important than God. Take the weight off its shoulders and it might stand up a little taller.
Let beauty be beauty, don’t worship it. Let your family be your family, don’t expect everything from them. Let work be work, don’t let it define you. Let our nation be our nation, not something to kill for.
Let life be what it is: a beautiful gift full of trouble, days of joy and contradiction, expiring in our hands. Life isn’t everything. We shouldn’t try to wring eternity from existence.
If we can find the faith to hold the reins lightly, the ride might get lively. As Charles Spurgeon says, “We make too much of this poor life, and this fondness costs us dear.”
Dear Lord, forgive our overburdened gods. Then let them leap to life. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.