[Part II of the Revised and Expanded “Genie in the Lamp”]
Right now a large percentage of the world population struggles for clean water and enough food to stave their hunger; or they live minute-by-minute in fear for their lives because of radical extremists. The number of these people turning their lives over to Jesus is at a greater rate than ever. Their real world existence with the Living Jesus leaves no room for a “genie in the lamp” fairy tale.
“The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs — heirs of God and coheirs with Christ — seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” [Romans 8:16-17HCSB]
However, in the US, and actually all of the materially affluent cultures, the primary focus is on obtaining things and stuff, and perpetual entertainment. We want people to just shut up and let us all do whatever we want. The entertainment gods demand our money and our time/focus, while they sell their souls for money and fame, and display their corrupted lives for everyone to see, trying to convince the world theirs is true happiness. On the other hand, men, women, boys and girls who have athletic prowess are feted like Roman gods. There are more than 100 twenty-four hour cable sports channels in the US market.
Millennials have jettisoned the traditional marriage, family, and church they have seen modeled in the failed pursuits of the previous generations. Like untethered boats, adrift, looking for something to bring purpose to life, but with little motive force to find it. Once again, the myth of the genie invades their souls.
Meanwhile, the institutional church has been running hard to prove it is as good as the world around us. They create programs to entice people into the massive “temples of entertainment,” then pulling out their lamps, rubbing them and hoping the genie will keep people satisfied enough to come back and give more money. Often their ‘genie’ is the ‘jesus’ they have created in their own minds and fashioned around their leader and his opinions, rather than the solid foundation of God’s Word. Just as personality worship has swelled outside the church, it has exploded within the church. Multi-site churches are needed because everyone wants to hear the one personality; perpetuated even more by book sales, radio/television programs and contemporary music. The sheep are being led to slaughter by false shepherds who suppress the ‘whole counsel of the Bible’ in order to keep from offending some participants (READ Psalm 19). They abide in the social realm of their Christian club, content with listening to sermonettes on achieving a meaningful life without true commitment; many just drift away, enticed by some other promise of fulfillment.
“Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” [1 John 2:15-18 HCSB]
So, at the core of it all we’re just trying to fill deep voids in our lives. Humans are social at the core of our being, created by a God who is three Persons in One living eternally in perfect harmony. All too many people are seeking to fulfill the desire for relationship through sexual encounters, professional success, sports prowess, or personal beauty, running from one ‘guru’ or fad to another. Unfortunately, it is an insatiable hole when filled with anything other than our Creator, Jesus. We have forgotten that in our distant past, in the beginning, God created us in His image. Relationship with Him is the only way to satisfy that void. If we were honest with ourselves, we would give up this blind and tireless pursuit for our elusive genie, and turn to the genuine Companion, Jesus, who will never turn His back on us no matter our physical, emotional, mental or financial condition. The hollow promise of the “genie in the lamp,” to give us whatever we desire with no strings attached, proves painfully inadequate at that point.
Next: Part III – You Get to Choose