From Despair And Disillusionment To Joy And Enthusiasm

Dear Friends,

Everyone faces despair and disillusionment at some point. When were you knocked down? Or when will you be hit? Are they preventable? For Christians, it is most challenging when we are disillusioned with God. We might be tempted to find a quick fix. Or to blame God, the Church, others, or self. We spiral into the pit of despair. I love Luke’s narrative about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is transparent, down to earth, and doable. Check out Luke 24: 13-35 in modern English.

They were overwhelmed, bleak and cynical. 

But why? What was at the core of their disillusionment (dis-ILLUSION-ment)?

Their concept of the Messiah was an illusion – a misconception, deception, and fantasy. They could not or did not want to conceptualise a suffering Messiah. The blind spots related to our illusions are often revealed when we suffer or fail.
Read Chapter 8, ‘Jesus Redefining Worldly Failure’

What illusions about God or Jesus did we inherit, accept, embrace and now promote?
Common illusions about God include:

  • a Santa Claus who will bless us if we are good. 
  • a tyrannical CEO, driving us hard and giving the top performers huge bonuses (blessings).
  • a gentle grandparent saying we are winners and the best, despite our rebellion and foolish choices.
  • a scathing critic yelling we are never good enough. 
  • power to give us happiness.

Jesus knows our misconceptions, illusions and foolish ideas. He invites us to come to him and be transparent. He wants to gently and firmly explain and reveal Himself, as he did for the disciples.

Are we willing for our illusions to be shattered so we can see the real Jesus of the Bible?
David Platt’s warning in his book “Radical applies to all middle-class Christians, not just those in the West:

the dangerous temptation (is) to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, . . . Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream. We are molding Jesus into our image. And the danger now is that when we gather . . . we may not actually be worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshipping ourselves.

If we are willing to connect with the real Jesus of the Bible, like the disciples, we could experience:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they recognized him; …they said to each other, “Don’t you remember how our hearts were burning inside us, as he talked to us on the road, as he opened up the Bible for us?” And they got up then and there and went back to Jerusalem. … (They told others), “The Lord really has been raised!”  
Luke 24: 31 -34

There’s so much happening globally, in the Church, politics, and social media to push us to sadness and disillusionment. But we can be and do differently. 

This Easter, let us be responsive to the real Jesus of the Bible.

Read and be open to His words and light on our blind spots and illusions. The revelation of the resurrected Jesus will overcome our gloom. We will be filled with joy and enthusiasm to tell others.

But we cannot do this alone. The early disciples practised community. It is nearly impossible to overcome our despair and disillusionment and connect with the real Jesus of the Bible on our own.

Connect with others. Consider using Redefining success according to Jesus as a discipleship tool for your group.

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