A couple months ago I was visiting my childhood church and heard a very fitting sermon. The main points surrounded our priorities, or what the pastor referred to as our quest for our messiah. Everyone has their messiah, whether it be fame or power or riches. We all make that our top priority ahead of where we know our focus should be.
This sermon has stuck with me as I have continued in my life through a stretch where everything seems unfamiliar and I’m questioning it all. I find it fascinating how we all strive for our messiah, spending all of our time and effort trying to achieve the lofty aspirations we have set for ourselves. When and if we do, we’re still not satisfied. We then find a seemingly greater messiah. But if we don’t ever reach our messiah, we still find ways to comfort ourselves and convince ourselves we are still good people.
Goals are good, but too often they become our messiah. Likewise, what we do to feel comfort captures all of our attention. We forget that what makes us feel good isn’t always right. Or, at the very least, it shouldn’t be what we call upon in times of crisis.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” If we think of coming to the father as our messiah, we know it can’t be achieved through riches or fame. It can only be achieved through Jesus.
This is about so much more than salvation though. Yes, we need Jesus as our savior so that we can spend eternity with Him in heaven. But we also need Him in our daily lives, we need His guidance so that we can live in the way He intended for us to live in. This isn’t easy, and we can never do it perfectly, but we strive to out of love for our Savior.
He commanded us in Exodus chapter 20 to have no other gods before Him. That is what we know as the first commandment. This is how we should live, and having messed up priorities is how we break that commandment. It’s so easy, and we do it every day when we find ourselves a new messiah besides the true One.
A great church reformer Martin Luther described the first commandment in the following way. It means, “We should fear, love, and trust God above all things.” Above ALL things. That means money, fame, popularity. And the real kicker, it means that we should trust God even above our own feelings, including comfort and happiness.
For me, this has been a struggle recently. I have found that in life there are so many good things to comfort us when we are down. Whether we look to chocolate or the loving support of unbelieving family and friends, true good can come from areas of our lives which don’t include calling on God.
This is where the balance that I have such a hard time with comes in. As I have written earlier, I suffer from multiple mental conditions including anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. To help treat it and control the overwhelming symptoms which come as a result, I am on two pills, one which I take whenever I feel symptoms, and the other I take every night.
Taking pills is a huge relief. It immediately calms my body down and slows my thoughts. Sometimes though, I worry that relying too much on the pills is kind of like making them my messiah. And while I’m still really not sure what to think, I bet it probably is.
There has to be a balance somewhere. It doesn’t mean that taking pills is wrong, as it is using the knowledge God has provided us with to maximize the comfort we experience on this earth. The problem is, it is a slippery slope when it comes to using these pills and relying on them. A major problem surfaces when I call on the pills before calling on God. Whenever I feel symptoms, I tell myself that before reaching for the pills, I need to take a moment and pray. This may mean that the comfort and relief I feel from the pills is delayed for a moment and I suffer for longer. But it is my attempt at training myself not to allow these pills to become my messiah.
I do believe there’s even more to this in my experience though which may be more relatable to others, since I’m guessing most of us don’t rely so heavily on pills. Getting to the root of the issue, it really isn’t just the pills that become my messiah, it’s the reason for taking them. Why do I immediately reach for the pills when feeling symptoms of panic set in? I do that because I am so overwhelmed and uncomfortable.
Therefore, my comfort is my messiah. I’m sure everyone can relate to this at some point in their lives. We’ll do anything to feel better, often times even if that means resorting to earthly measures before crying out to our heavenly father. And while earthly measures can be very good and useful strategies to improve how we feel, they shouldn’t come between us and the One we have been instructed to cast all our cares on.