Researchers Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton have coined a term for the religious beliefs of many teens, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Their view of God and faith, shared by a good portion of adults as well, is moralistic in that they think life is all about getting people to "be good." Therapeutic stands for the reality that the teens feel that faith is solely to make them happy and feel good. And deism defines their view of God as the One who created the world but isn't really involved in our lives today.
The apostle Paul had a very different view of God and our goodness. In Romans 5 he states that we were not born good, but dead in our sins (vv.6-8). Striving to "be good" will not work, for we can only be "made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ" (v.9).
Paul describes life as not being all about happiness, for we will face "problems and trials" (v.3). These challenges bring about helpful development of our character and hope in Jesus (vv.4-5). We may not always be happy, but we can "rejoice" because of what God has done and is doing in us (v.3).
Finally, Paul states: "We can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God" (v.11). The intimacy and relationship seen in the apostle's inspired words are a far cry from a distant God who isn't really involved in our lives. He loves us and His Spirit lives within us (v.5). Do Paul's views of God and belief in Him jibe with your own? A true view of God and His active, redeeming work in our lives is essential for a transforming faith, one that glorifies and accurately reveals Him to others. , Tom Felten
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