Our modus operandi is that we must look to something other than ourselves for answers, something outside ourselves for deliverance. We are in one reality, salvation is in another. We are limited and dependent. We are hopelessly enslaved and in need of redemption. The external reality, the world around us possesses this redemption we are in need of. Surely it must, that's why I keep looking. I am in need of "other". Almost, anything! Anything in the world, except, well "me" is worth examining for potential salvation: sports, wine tasting, religion, sex, etc. The inherent assumption is that we are lost and incomplete without relations with something external. to us. Something on the outside world, that is not me will provide me with what I truly need.
Society tells you a man will make you happy. Society tells you a woman will make you happy. Society tells you a high paying career will make you happy. Society tells you, sex will make you happy. Society tells you drinking will make you happy. Society says these new pair of shoes will make me happy. Society says a brand new outfit will make me popular, and therefore happy. Society tells you going to high school, then university, then getting a career, then getting a promotion, then finally the golden 65 retirement will make you happy. Society even tells you how to avoid a decrease of happiness (aka pain). Society says avoid rejection at all costs. Society says don't talk to strangers. Society says don't risk looking embarrassed. Society says don't upset the flow of things. Society says fall in line and follow pleasantly, be mediocre and most importantly fit in. Society says be like every person around you, don't stand out clearly. Society is like your best friend, it shows you not only how to increase your happiness but also decrease your painfulness by avoiding harmful situations.
I wonder if your ballshit meter has risen even a little yet? Most of us have done/had many/all of these things, yet we are not extremely fulfilled or undoubtedly happy. We are not on some perpetual high, nor do we feel some ultimate fulfillment like a divine love drug similar to ecstasy. In fact we have problems that are never ending, never-ceasing, and once we solve one, then arises another. We hope the deliverance may come in the future, but none of what society has given so far has satisfied our expectation. In fact it's produced a mass-consumer culture of addicts invested in perpetually buying whatever "merchandise" they need to give them that temporary hit, that band-aid over the wound.
In all these cases something outside of you tells you the condition of that which make you happy and the adequate answer to that condition. That's nice isn't it? Except that each condition and answer fails every time at producing long-term deep satisfaction, or as I call it spiritual nourishment. It's all just a temporary fix. I remember sometimes "longer" fixes would come along, like a video game that last for hours, but eventually it runs out of stem, the novelty dissipates, the high becomes a low and boredom, or depression and hate reappear.
So what is salvation? Who is salvation? How can I earn salvation? Society has the answer. Salvation is finding about reincarnation on Oprah Winfrey. We will go through endless lives until we are finally delivered. Fun is determined by watching Jersey Shore. Healthy living is determined by watching Dr Phil. Acceptance is determined by buying the right make-up kit. For me regaining approval will be found in a hair-growth surgeon! Losing hair means I am now incomplete according to many infomercials, until salvation comes in the form of a toupee. That's society for you.
Christianity also has the answer to salvation. So does Islam. Don't forget, Mormons too. Everyone has the fucking answer. Heak, everyone except me. Everyone is an infallible authority. Some how everyone magically knows the answer. Not a single person alive seems to have failed to share the conviction that, they have have the truth and/or salvation through some (external) system of authority other than themselves, whether it be Islam, science or girly magazines. We are all to follow the authority like good children. I am not an authority. But everybody else is, every religion, and every ideology, every construct, and every mental model.
It is apparent from the above, that in each and every case I seek completion outside of me, I willingly put my completion in the hands of a reality who is just as flawed, if not as imperfect as myself, in the above illustration I use the architects and results of some mainstream aspects of society which make absolutely no sense, saturated in mainstream media that engages in high rhetoric and empty promises. Why do we give away this power to the world around us? I have no idea. But i'm going to deconstruct the basic flaw in principle. I will pick on the Evangelicals as a case in point, to show how and why none of this works.
Evangelical Christianity commonly asserts things like: "I don't have a religion, I have a relationship with Jesus Christ".
It's mean't to be an attractive package for us on lookers. Since the evangelical in question is not religious (a word they incorrectly associate with mere 'legalism') but rather 'relationship' orientated. We all need a relationship with the perfect partner and savior who can match our every need. But who can fit such a description? The evangelical insists: Jesus.
Obviously since no human can be perfect, the selling point is that God became the perfect human in Jesus. They usually go onto to say something like: "If you ask Jesus to come into your heart and experience a relationship with you, he will come into you, give you joy, peace, salvation and live inside you as Lord and Savior."
Notice the over-lap and commonality the Evangelical belief has with the aforementioned notions made by mainstream society. In both cases happiness, completion and salvation is that something that lay outside of me, something external to me, the world around me (if you will), which will come and redeem me. In this case "Jesus" instead of "a boyfriend" or "alcohol" or "successful career". Jesus is my new "drug", Jesus is being sold as a "made to feel better/happiness provider" and "savior of my soul and long lasting relationship".
Hence the concept of Jesus in this regard, like every other concept is made to appease our stimulating mechanisms. In the same way we can't help but respond to the shiny objects or beams of light at rock concerts, Jesus is functioning the same way. A very good psychological effect, but alas only a happy-time story, and a temporary fix.
Unfortunately not even this Jesus himself can resolve our feeling that something is missing in our lives, outside of a few places (e.g. Church) times (worshiping) or years (when your Pentecostal passion ceases).
So do I need a relationship with Jesus to complete me? Will this restore some deep part of my being?
- A person cannot experience relations with another person who they have never encountered. (even if requested or not). The implication? I must look to myself.
- No experience of a relationship has ever completely satisfied me. I must look to myself.
- External relations do not produce long lasting deep satisfaction/spiritual fulfillment. (evidence: "Family, Friends, Work etc"). Look to myself, much?
- External relations with a perfect external entity do not cause permanent spiritual fulfillment. (evidence: "Christians who've had divine relationship/experiences with God yet remain dissatisfied and long for heaven and/or death TO BE (future tense) with Christ since they aren't content yet"). Look to myself, instead?
- I do not require relations with the external to be complete. (I'm an introvert and prefer the company of my lonesome self. In-fact without anybody existing, negative mental labeling/activity, bad stereotypes, envy, hatred, comparison etc, would become almost entirely obsolete). Me, me, me!
- To look to the external world is to make the fundamental mistake that another has enlightenment and you lack it. Why begin with negative assumptions over positive?
So this "outward" figure, the one mean't to "descend from the heavens" to be our savior, redeemer, and relationship extraordinaire is ultimately a substitute used for external stimulus. This is not to say that we cannot find God and/or Jesus, but to say that I think that Evangelicals have fallen into the common societal structure of providing a missing need and then filling the void with a cheap fix, which is why this movement is falling apart. It's as utterly bankrupt as are all the other notions claiming salvation is external.
While I do make the affirmative existence of the objective world (based on faith), I do not make the claim that this world can redeem me or liberate me. I must find the source of my liberation in my own choices or "free will" and test/check that against the world around me.