“As I sat there savoring hot tubness, cracking small jokes and adjusting to the feel of being bubble over from all angles, it struck me that the hot tub is the perfect symbol of the modern route in religion. The hot tub experience is sensuous, relaxing, floppy, laid-back: not in any way demanding, whether intellectually or otherwise, but very, very nice, even to the point of being great fun.”
“Many today want Christianity to be like that, and labor to make it so.”
“What, then, should we say of hot tub religion? Certainly a rhythm of life that includes relaxation is right; the fourth commandment shows that. Alternating hard labor with fun times in right too; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and Jesus so often went to banquets, the fun times of the ancient world, that he got called glutton and drunkard. Enjoying our bodies while we can, as opposed to despising them is part of the discipline of gratitude to our Creator. And uninhibited exuberances like clapping, dancing, shouting praise and crying out in prayer can be approved too, provided we do not hereby stumble others.”
“Without these hot tub factors, as we may call them, our Christianity would be less godly and less lively, for it would be less human. But if there were no more to our Christianity than hot tub factors – if, that is, we embraced a self-absorbed hedonism of relaxation and happy feelings, while dodging tough tasks, unpopular stances and exhausting relationships — we should fall short of biblical God-centeredness and of the cross-bearing life to which Jesus calls us, and advertise to the world nothing better than our own decadence. Please God, however, we shall not settle for that.”
The danger of this hot tub mentality is not only that it loses sight of the place of service and of self-giving love as the true path of joyful Christianity, but in the words of J. I. Packer, it also “loses sight of the place of pain in sanctification, whereby God trains his children to share his holiness.”
“The New Testament shows us that in the school of sanctification many modes of pain have their place — physical and mental discomfort and pressure, personal disappointment, restriction, hurt, and distress. God uses these things to activate the supernatural power that is at work in believers (2 Cor. 4:7-11); to replace self-reliance with total trust in the Lord who gives strength (1:8f, 12:9f); and to carry on his holy work of changing us from what we naturally are into Jesus’ moral likeness ‘with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus he prepares us for that which he has prepared for us.” (Quotes from: Hot Tub Religion, by J. I. Packer).