Years ago I knew of a prisoner who was devoutly following his religion. Asked why he faithfully engaged in various rituals, he replied that he was “bending God.” He was saying prayers and reading from his holy book in an effort to induce his god to respond as he wanted.
This man was not a Christian. But his worldview is sometimes found among those who profess to follow Christ. The question that must be answered is this: Is God a means to an end, or the end for which all exists? In other words, does God exist to make our lives comfortable, safe, and prosperous? Or is our existence ordained so that we may glorify His name through all of life, whether it is peaceful or turbulent, prosperous or penniless?
Popular preachers sometimes suggest the former; the Bible teaches the latter. Some of God’s choicest servants, in biblical times and since, have suffered tremendously and died in poverty—simply because they were faithful to their calling. The Christian experience is much deeper than mere material and financial well being
British writer C. S. Lewis said it well: “I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
No, the Christian life is a ceaseless struggle against sin and temptation as we journey toward eternity. Sometimes the Christian identity brings tremendous peril, even death. We grieve over our lack of faithfulness to our God. But we understand that our guilt was born by the Savior. So we rejoice in that forgiveness, striving to serve God in a spirit of gratitude and faithfulness.
God’s purpose is not to be a “genie in the bottle” waiting to grant our next wish.
We humans exist for the glory and praise of God, the Creator. Make that your chief end.