The goal of life is to glorify God by walking with him and enjoying him. The problems we have in life are due to our sin or to the sins of others. Problems multiply as we respond to the sins of others in sinful ways. In counseling, we find people who are struggling with life and who often are struggling because of their sinful responses to the trials they find presented to them. This means that rather than believing that God is sovereign over their lives, in other words that these trials come from God, people rely on their own devices to alleviate their circumstances. Unless this involves running to God, these devices are always sinful.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Some add that we glorify him by enjoying him forever. Whichever way we take it, our goal in life is to glorify God and to have a living and active relationship with him.
Jesus said that we become like our teachers (Lk. 6:40) and the psalmist said that we become like what we worship (Psa. 115:8). So if we want to be like God, or to be Christ like, we need to be with him, worshipping, learning from, and relating to him. And this is what Biblical Counseling is all about. If we think we are doing something in our counseling sessions other than helping others know and be known by God in a more vibrant and glorious way, we have fallen short.
Consequently, when a counselee comes to us and makes comments like, “the homework was too hard” or “I can’t read my Bible” we know that there is a good chance they don’t know God. If they knew God, they would love God. If they love God, it would be difficult to get them to stop doing the homework.
It’s like anything else we love. When we love tennis, we play all the time. When we aren’t playing, we’re thinking about playing. When we aren’t thinking about playing, we’re watching others play or scouring catalogs for the latest gear. When we love tennis, we hang out with other tennis lovers, we can hardly get anything else done in our lives. Even when we do do other things, we do them so that we can play tennis. For someone, who loves tennis, to say, “I don’t have time,” or “it’s too hard,” would make us all wonder whether they really loved tennis at all. Moreover, if they never played, never checked out their strings, couldn’t even find their racquet, we would have serious doubts about their love of the game.
It isn’t any different for the Christian. Jesus claims total and complete allegiance. He says you can’t even come and follow him if you don’t first leave everything you own, everything you do, and everything you are. He literally said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:25-27). “Bear his cross” means give up any claims to your life. We need to consider ourselves dead before we can follow Jesus.
When we claim to be a Christian, we have got to have come to a place in our lives where nothing else matters. If we don’t have Jesus, we die. Consequently, because God is love, and Jesus died for us because he loves us, this relationship is a love relationship. It is all about love. In a similar way to the way people love tennis, we love Jesus. He’s our all. We think about him all the time. We work on how we can know him better and better. Consequently, we read our Bibles—a lot. We spend time with Jesus, reading his word, talking with him, talking about him, looking through catalogs to see what others have written and said about him. We spend time with other Jesus lovers. When we can’t get with Jesus in the word, or with other Christians, we talk to him, we plan ways to get with him, we do things in our community that helps bring others to him. Jesus is our life.
When someone says, “it didn’t work,” what they are saying is that I’m in it for me. God is only my helper and he’s not helping. He exists to help me be who I want to be. He is supposed to magically change the things in my life so that I’ll be happy and fulfilled. But though I claim to be a Christian, I’m really a selfian. I love me. I spend all my time thinking about me and what’s best for me. I work really hard to make sure I have a very nice life. I work at my job. I have nice children. I am well fed. I hang out with people who are interested in me; those who, while they might be just as committed to themselves as I am to me, they still make me feel good about myself; those who pray for me; those who come along-side me and help me think I’m wonderful. When sickness or troubles in life come along, I draw into my shell until someone does or says the right things to bring me back to the land of the living. And when they tell me to study my Bible and submit myself to God, I do exactly what they say and no more and then, when God does not dance to my tune, I say, “I tried, but it doesn’t work.”
To this person I say, “repent!” You are headed for a terrible disaster. You think your life is bad now, just wait. God will not let you use his name badly. Your life is showing that you do not love Jesus. You need to love Jesus—not because of what he will do for you, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings and he bids you to come. He will bless you, but if you come for the blessing instead of because he’s the only one in the universe worth worshiping, you will continue in your sin and suffering the consequences of your sin. Repent! Turn to Christ. Lay down your life and come to him.