I can remember the first time I heard the song "Drugs or Jesus" by country recording artist Tim McGraw. I was driving a U-haul from Farmington, New Mexico back to Missouri where my wife and I currently reside. Unfortunately, I only made it about an hour outside of Farmington when we noticed that the Honda Element which we were hauling was smoking out of the rear exhaust. Bad news! We had forgotten to read the owners manual which stated that the Element can only be towed with all four wheels off the ground. It turned out that we burned our rear differential (whatever that means) and it cost us over two thousand dollars to fix.
I find it interesting that I first heard this song while driving down the road with my rented U-haul completely oblivious to the damage I was doing to our vehicle because of a failure on my part to read the owners manual. The premise of the song is that the same human emotions that lead people to drugs also lead people to Jesus. While that may be true, there is an underlying assumption that I think needs to be challenged. And that is the idea that following Jesus is simply a matter of personal preference. In our me-centered society, this is a message that resonates with most people, even many Christians. For many people, Jesus is simply a coping mechanism to get through life's struggles and perhaps add a little meaning along the way. Sadly, even in most of our churches, the gospel is presented in terms of "come to Jesus and let Him solve all your problems." It is a sad day when Jesus becomes a mere substitute for Prozak.
In our me-centered culture we forget that, according to Jesus, following Him is not merely a matter of personal preference, but of life and death. Jesus said "He who is not with me is against me", "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father except through me", "Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." Or how about the words of John the Baptist-"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him." Following Jesus is no more a matter of personal preference than me choosing to read the owners manual to avoid severe mechanical damage to my vehicle. Given the credibility of His character, the historical fact of His resurrection, and the eternal stakes of His claims, following Jesus is just good common sense.