Though rebellion and religion deaden us, relationship with God energizes us.
It seems we all have something in common during pandemic—we’re all tired. I haven’t heard anyone say, “Wow, this global pandemic really has given me a boost!” No one is saying, “I’m just so invigorated by all the social distancing and bad news.”
Yesterday, I shared two reasons that we’re feeling fatigued in the midst of pandemic—loneliness and stress. They’re not new, of course. As soon as sin entered the world, Adam and Eve became isolated and anxious. Loneliness and angst, science has proven, make us feel tired.
From the dawn of humanity, we’ve been tempted toward two counterfeit solutions to our exhaustion—rebellion and religion. Some people feel fatigued by all the pressure of “right and wrong” and decide that escape from authority is the pathway to life. Others find counterfeit energy in proving themselves worthy—in trying to be better than others.
There is a lyric in One Republic’s hit song, “Counting Stars,” by songwriter/lead singer, Ryan Tedder, that sums up the allure of rebellion:
I feel something so right
Doing the wrong thing
I feel something so wrong
But doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.
The spirit of rebellion promises energy through its false version of freedom. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, rebellion cries to those exhausted by the shame and pressure of life. You’ll feel more alive when you shake off all of society’s expectations.
The spirit of religion appeals to the opposite. Follow all the rules, please all the authorities, and you’ll flourish and feel alive, religion promises. The spirit of religious legalism appeals to our pride—if we feel superior to other people, we feel more alive. But, as Jesus exposed in the hypocritical Pharisees, pride just fills us with “dead men’s bones.”
When Jesus promised life more abundantly, He offered what neither rebellion nor religion ever produces—Jesus offered relationship. Authentic relationship with God and others is the secret of joy, energy and abundant life. And that’s the Gospel!