Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Philip Yancey describes a Bible college reunion, writing:
“. . . my classmates speak in phrases we learned as students: ‘God is giving me the victory . . . I can do all things through Christ . . . All things work together for good . . . I’m walking in triumph.’ Yet they speak a different vocabulary when relating their lives after college. Several suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, and others are clinically depressed. One couple recently committed their teenage daughter to a mental institution.”
Yancey says, “I wince at the disconnect between these raw personal stories and the spiritual overlay applied to them.” (p. 294)
I wince with him, and think of Karl Marx’s words, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed . . ., the heart of a heartless world . . . . It is the opium of the people.” (Wikipedia article Opium of the People, quoting Marx in A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of the Right.)
The apostle Paul was a prime candidate for pain relief via opium. He said, “Five times I received of the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have gone without sleep, I have known hunger and thirst, I have been cold and naked” (2 Cor 11:24-27, excerpts).
Listen now to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, and ask, “Is he overdosing on religious opiates to dull his sense of pain?”
I have not stopped giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation
so that you may know him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened
so that you may know
the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph 1:16-19a)
Doesn’t sound like the prayer of a homeless man looking for a fix. Nor of a heroin-induced escape from pain. This prayer comes from one who lived fully, who found a savior and a cause, who invested his life in things seen and unseen. Paul found in the unseen Christ something Marx was never able to see.
At his college reunion, Yancey winced at the discrepancy between religious bromides and harsh realities. He quoted his unbelieving brother, “What is real, and what is fake?” Yancey concludes, “I know of no more honest book than the Bible, which hides none of its characters’ flaws.” (p. 295).
And how does this apply to me? Is prayer my opium to avoid life’s pain? Or does it give me access to another reality, where hope calls, and a glorious inheritance beckons, and the power of the resurrection awaits?
O God of our Lord Jesus Christ, O glorious father,
give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Christ better.
Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may see
the hope to which you call us,
the riches of your glorious inheritance in us who believe . . .
that we may see your incomparably great power for all your children,
the same power that raised Christ from the dead
and seated him at your right hand,
far above all rule and authority, dominion, and power,
and every name that can be named,
both in this age and the age to come.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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