We thought we were going to a nice, quiet conference for church lay leaders. We would drive a few hours, sit through a few sermons and workshops, sing some songs, and come home. Little did we know that one concept presented at that conference would change our marriage forever.
Before the conference, we were a nice Christian couple. We knew God had brought us together. We went to church together. We often prayed together.
But we also felt a little aimless. We had fallen into daily routines not much different from those of our non-Christian neighbors: commuting to work, driving kids to school, watching videos. Sure, we helped at church, but were we making any difference in our world?
The conference speaker pegged us when he said, "Most believers just want to be happy. They would also like to have friends and enough money, and then if God is pleased with them, that would be great, too."
We didn't see anything wrong with that. But then he said, "The problem with these subtle, unvoiced life visions that most believers have is that they are destructive lies. Jesus said clearly that if you seek your own happiness, you will never find it. As soon as you make happiness and security your goals, you make them impossible to attain."
Ouch! Could it be that we active churchgoers and Bible readers had, without realizing it, been living mostly for ourselves? That night over milkshakes we had one of the most honest conversations of our marriage.
"I may look like a Christian on the outside," I said to Karen, "but down in my fundamental goals and drives, I'm not much different from anybody else. I think my major goal has been to move to a bigger house."1