I hate false dilemmas. No. I really hate false dilemmas. They are the product of short-sighted people who do not understand reality and see fit to tangle and drag others into false thinking. These people cause false fear. They misunderstand reality. And they choose with false confidence.
When I was growing up, I was subjected to particularly malevolent false dilemma by people at my old church. It even rhymed. It went like this:
"There are only two choices on the shelf: pleasing God or pleasing self."
I now know better. To be a Christian, while it involves the choice to live righteously, is not sour or boorish. Rather, when God works to fill my life with true love, humility, generosity, honesty, and self-control, life is awesome. Life becomes worth living.
These days, there's only one real choice for me. Sure, there are plenty of opportunities, plenty of choices to make in a day, but none of the other options match the joy, blessing, love, wisdom, and opportunity of following God. It's impossible to choose to please God and not please one's own self.
I have learned that life isn't about these stupid false dilemmas. We aren't given blindness, that we should fear. Rather, we learn to trust God to lead in a path that brings delight. The rhyming line suggests that pleasing God isn't very pleasant. They're wrong.
Christianity turns life upside-down, because it satisfies the invisible reality of our spiritual needs. It turns the pursuit of happiness into true joy. For those who have been changed by God, talking with a fellow-believer , secretly washing someone's dishes, sitting cross-legged and praying alone high in a forest-tower on Labor Day -- these things are way more fun than watching TV, going to a theme park, or even getting an exciting job. Diversions just occupy our time. At best, they're just a temporary high. But people are spiritual beings. For the Christian, whose life has been unbent by God, the dance of daily life becomes a great song of praise, squeezing the joy of truly full life into every corner of living.
Pleasing God or pleasing self? Ha! Tell me another one.
Update: Some have noted that Christianity does indeed include a renunciation of selfishness. I agree. But I add: it is this renunciation of selfishness which most truly fulfils our needs most properly and most fully.