Re-reading this text this morning, and just had to share it:
It’s an illusion created in part by our own conviction that our unrestrained natural impulse is in itself a good thing and that we have an unquestionable right to fulfill our natural impulses so long as “no one gets hurt.”Dallas Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines, 99-100
Where have we gotten this idea about “doing what feels good”? The unrestrained hedonism of our own day comes historically from the 18th-century idealization of happiness and is filtered through the 19th-century English ideology of pleasure as the good for people. Finally it emerges in the form of our present “feel good” society—tragically pandered to by the popular culture and much of popular religion as well.
Isn’t the most generally applied standard of success for a religious service whether or not people feel good in it or after it? The preeminence of the “feel good” mentality in our world is what makes it impossible for many people now even to imagine what Paul and his contemporaries accepted as a fact of life. Our communities and our churches are thickly populated with people who are neurotic or paralyzed by their devotion and willing bondage to how they feel. Drug dependence and addiction is epidemic because of the cultural imperative to “feel good.”
Whether you consider yourself conservative or liberal, if you consider yourself a Christ-follower, this quote should really give you pause and challenge you.
Have we so bought into the cultural mindset of “feeling good” that we have lost the ability to seek instead a common good that may actually be bigger than our own agendas?
If what we seek is spiritual growth and maturity, our drive to minimize our own perceived short-term suffering does us no favors in the long run.