Feel-good Peddlers

Romans 5:1-11

No matter who you are or where you are, you are exposed in one way or another to advertisements, sales pitches and marketing gimmicks of all kinds. These may be direct, indirect or subliminal messages, promising you more joy, more pleasure, more free time and happiness.

Yet, as Dr. Bob Moorehead wrote a few decades ago (in an essay commonly attributed to George Carlin): We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time… 

This is true not only in the world of material things, but also in the spiritual world. There are all kinds of people, groups, organizations and religions eager to peddle their products, ideas, methods, books and whatever else for a profit, and the competition is fierce. They all claim their product or message is the best and it works for sure, and that joy and happiness is yours just by joining their group or purchasing their product.

Millions of people have been and are being swept up by this current and they think it’s working for them. That is because the devil has reintroduced the goddess of pleasure and sensuality, by repackaging it and renaming it joyfulness  and happiness. Pleasure and feeling good seem to be the ultimate goal for most people today.

Rather than asking, “Is that the truth?” or, “Is that good for me physically and spiritually?” people ask: “How much pleasure will I get out of it?” or “Does it make me feel good?” In other words,  “To what heights of pleasure can I rise with it?” The logic seems to be, “If it feels good, if it gives you pleasure, do it.”

Sadly this applies to almost every area of life: food, drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships and even religion. Often, people join a religion or a religious group, not because they have found the truth, or because they want to worship God and serve Him, but primarily because of the amount of pleasure they hope to get out of that religion or group.

There is nothing wrong in getting pleasure out of worshipping God; in fact, there is great joy in worshipping God. However, it becomes a problem when pleasure is the main goal. Thrill-seeking worship is temporary and short-lived at best. A spiritual high will not last long if it is the result of a beautiful melody or song, or even a prayer, unless that is the result of knowing and worshipping God.

Jesus was not and is not a salesman of pleasure, He is the giver of peace, joy and happiness. He said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

True joy is only found in God. “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy to your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

True joy is the result of salvation. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Psalm 12:3)

Jesus said: “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  (John 16:24)

Joy and happiness are not continuous states of painlessness and freedom from problems. Lasting joy and peace are a reality for the true believer but they do not depend on our moods and circumstances. Rather, they exist in spite of our circumstances. The true believer rejoices even in suffering (Romans 5:3): “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.”

Unbelievers cannot understand the mental and spiritual state of the believer because it seems to be so unnatural:  “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Paul said, in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice.”

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian