I stared at the big red F on my young son's math paper.
"Hmm...," I mused. "You wrote 2 times 2 equals 9. And 4 times 5 equals 11. Your problems all have ...uh... answers your teacher did not choose. Is that why you got an F? Is that why I have to sign this page?"
"Yep," he retorted, not the least bit concerned about it. "She don't like my answers, but I do. I like my answers better."
I smiled at his upturned face. My eyes misted at the sweetness and innocence in his eyes. I couldn't hurt him, couldn't discourage him. So I said, "Well, that's fine honey. You're a good math student. You should feel good about yourself. Your teacher is too narrow-minded. She should allow others to express their ideas in her classroom. You have just as much right as she does to determine what answer is right for you."
He left the room, triumphant, and I enjoyed the warm sense of satisfaction in making him feel good about himself. He was happy now, filled with confidence and certain that his way would always triumph.
I made him feel good---but I had harmed him.
No, that scenario never happened. But something similar is happening all over the world. And it is causing irreparable, eternal harm.
"God is for you!" the smiling preachers cry. "You are wonderful! Believe in yourself and the potential within you. You can do amazing things! God is there to champion your dreams, cheer you on, and bless you abundantly. Just have faith!"
Faith in what?
Faith in myself? In my potential? In my own ability? In the confidence that my way will always triumph?
Jesus never said any such thing. In fact, he proclaimed the opposite of what is now being touted as Christianity. He said, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." (John 15:14)
And "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25)
The truth, according to the scripture, is that God is only for us when we are for him. If we are not his children through repentance and faith in Christ, then we are worse than non-friends. We are his enemies.
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears,
walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly,
and they glory in their shame,
with minds set on earthly things.
Encouragement is only biblical when it is being used to urge someone further along the path where God has placed his feet. Encouragement by itself can be either good or evil. You can encourage someone right into hell.
The feel-good preachers enjoy the popularity and warm-fuzzies they get from encouraging the masses. But how many are they harming by making them feel so good on their journey to destruction?
Two times two will never equal nine, no matter how strongly I feel it should. And my willful dreams will never bring me into the presence and blessing of God. Real joy and satisfaction only come in relinquishing my dreams in favor of God's dreams for me. Or as Jesus put it, in "losing my life for his sake."
Are you buying into the new brand of pseudo-Christianity? The brand Jesus never taught?
Be sure you don't let anyone rob you of the right to come to God His way. It's the only way.
"If any man would come after me,
let him deny himself,
take up his cross,
and follow me."