Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Choices

I heard a good quote from the writings of G. Campbell Morgan this morning. I'm not sure I've got it word for word, but the gist of it was:

"Most of us tend to run from things that cause us pain,
instead of running from things that cause God pain."

That is so true of me!

I'm taking a Counseling Theories class right now. One of the earliest models of therapy was psychoanalysis, founded of course by Sigmund Freud. Freud has been discredited, and justifiably so, for some of his ideas. But he had it right when he said that the id (seat of our primitive desires . . . for the Christian, just another term for our sinful nature) is governed by the pleasure principle. Freud said that the id only wants to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The superego, said Freud, has to come along and "tame" the id so that the individual can live as a social being and contribute to society.

Freud rejected religion, but the truth is he was right about human nature. Without some moral influence, human beings are self-centered pleasure seekers and pain avoiders. The Apostle Paul put it this way: we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1).

Christians know that what changes people is not the superego but the gospel. Jesus Christ sets people free from enslavement to sin and gives them a new nature that loves God and wants to serve others. Still, even after coming to faith in Christ, we struggle with that old nature's lingering effects. That's why, as Campbell said, we tend to run from things that cause us pain, instead of running from those things that cause God pain.

I often pray with King David, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). I want my love for Jesus to outweigh my love of sinning. I want to avoid things that displease God, not because He's gonna spank me if I'm bad, but because He offers me so much more than my idols offer me. And I don't merely want to run from things that cause God pain. That could be nothing more than legalism. Instead, I want to run from sin into the arms of my Father, and draw from those loving arms strength to live a holy life.

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