Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Self Help Bible (NKJV)

Hello readers. Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

I have much praise to give to my brother Jonathan Brown and his sharpening of me.  And this blog entry and many others have been a result of our friendship, so let's work. 

The title of this blog is The Self Help Bible.  As usual, I try to theme the title with a hint of sarcasm, hopefully to draw you into reading it.  So welcome. Now, as with everything, I'm here for your joy.  I wish I knew how to blog all the happy things.  Like I'm sure you guys would love to know how I haven't jogged in a week due to laziness or how I cut my leg on a car door yesterday, but, I didn't create this blog for you to be admired of me and my inabilities.  I desperately want you to be admired with Christ.  All of my motivation for these blogs is birthed out of that key element, be admired with Christ.  And speaking of happy things, let's get into the subject. 

So, I've slowly been noticing that a lot of pastors or speakers are very happy.  Like very happy in their teaching.  Now please don't misunderstand me, I'm all about motivating people and getting to them emotionally, all for that.  But what I have the burden now is that I feel that a lot of us are Feel Good Christians------

Yeah, that pause was intentional. 

We're Feel Good Christians.  And it's not our fault.  We've been pumped this message or this gospel weekly of how much God loves you and there's grace and forgiveness and He's desperate for you. All biblical trues.  All exactly correct.  But what I think has happened is that a cultural perspective of all of these words have gotten us into only being consumers of God.  That's honestly why I love my church.  Pastor Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands encourages people almost every week to join the Dream Team and begin serving in the church.  That helps change that perspective in a physical way.  But perhaps even more important than that, we still have to stop being consumers of God in our thinking as well.  Here's the thing. 

It's been presented to us that the bible is a self help book.  Hey, dealing with hopelessness, Jeremiah 29:11.  Dealing with depression and loneliness, John 3:16.  Dealing with hard trials, Romans 5:3. 

The Self Help Bible. 

And quotes like "Let go and let God" and "Only God can judge me" and "Name it and claim it" and "Trust in the Lord He will make a way" and "This too shall pass" and "I'm too blessed to stress" and "I'm blessed and highly favored"  and so many more have become widely popular among us modern day Christians.  Almost common speech among the Bible Belt talkers.  Now again, all are in someway correct, so that's not the issue.

But have we gotten more focused on making our lives better here than we have making our eternity better?

I mean, nowadays the world and the church are preaching the same message! Hey, join us and you'll be successful and happy.  And I have yet to see this in scripture.  Now what I have seen in scripture is that Christians will face persecution because of their faith.  And some of us can't even handle missing a bus or making a C on a test or stubbing a toe and we're cursing the devil for a bad day.  Woe to me, my life is in shambles.  Newsflash, Christ tells us to focus on heavenly things in Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  

Here's the danger of this feel good mentality.  A. It creates bitter people towards God, and want to know why?  Because life hits these people in an unexpected way and they were told that God is a good and loving God.  They were never explained the weight of their sin and the curse on the Earth and the effects of it, no, they were told that God will spoil you and be like your grandpa and slip you cookies when your mom isn't looking.  What are we doing?  What are we communicating?  What do you tell people when they lose a parent "prematurely"? What do you tell parents who lose children?  What do you tell a wife who's loving husband wants a divorce?  What do you tell a girl who's boyfriend just dumped her?  What do you tell victims of self trafficking?  What do you tell these people?  The concordance doesn't say anything!?  Look in James? No, nothing there.  What if there is no bible verse to make them feel better?

But what there is----there is a Savior to overwhelming comfort them.  Because here is where we'll settle and just tell them something like, "Just trust in the Lord."  I remember going through a season in my life and I was venting to a friend and she started to ramble off all of these verses to me about trust in God and yada yada and I was like, "Shut up, I've used those already.  I know these verses."

So what happened?

I was a feel good Christian.  The verses were like temporary hits of satisfaction.  My nicotine patch for my urgent craving for my situation to change.  I'd quote them or Tweet them on Monday and by Wednesday I was back feeling the SAME way I was.  Or you'll have the Christian girls saying, Lord, I've been delighting in You and You said you'd give me the desires of my heart!  And God is saying, you've only been delighting in Me for a month.

Ok, let me stop with the analogies.  Here's the point.  If we're not pointing people to Jesus instead of the encouraging words He says, then we're selling people short.  Hey, I can't answer any of those questions, but I can say is that we should set our hearts on things above because what happens on this Earth really doesn't matter that much.  When I arrived to this eternal perspective on life and this eternal quest of making sure I'm chilling with God come Judgement Day, this life has started to just pass me by.  This life tends to throw its darts and daggers at me and I end up talking like Paul when he says, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.  Philippians 1:21-23

Really Paul?  I mean really?  You've stepped off the deep end huh?  Had a little too much to drink huh Paul? 

No, Paul got it.  Paul had something that a lot of us know nothing about.  Ok, I won't say that.  We MAY know a little bit about it.  Paul had joy.  And a serious abundance of it.  Joy is hard to spot when things are going well, because you're happy.  Let me say it this way, the joy of the Lord is this deep delight in Him, not in just His words, but in Him.  You can't get there reading the bible like it's a self help book. Everything in the Bible isn't applicable or even possible without a relationship with Him. 

So to get people truly healed, let's shoot Jesus straight.  Not His comforting words to make the emotions go wild, but let's shoot them Jesus.  Let's present Him so they know who said the words.  Let's present Him so they encounter Him and they too can have this joy that we speak of.  They deserve that.  People deserve to know the truth, and the truth is, this life ends. So that having a better life in 60 days, yeah, that will only last a little while.  So focus on eternity.  And once your perspective is there, your life will naturally get better, as you await the uniting of you and your Father in Heaven.

Let's step away from being Feel Good Christians and work our way into being true followers of Christ, which makes it sound like I'm implying that they're two different things.  :) 


Read this to understand that inside joke. Christian or Follower of Jesus.     

1 comment:

  1. I occasionally check in if I see your fb updates, and I'm glad I caught this entry! This sums up a lot of what I deal with, on a personal level. You see, I've dealt with chronic depression since I was 16. There were many times throughout my teens and early 20s where I didn't get the whole feel good thing. I understood having joy in Christ, but I didn't see how my church or friends could easily forget all of the unexplained brokeness in the world. During that time, one of my best friends committed suicide and others faced problems with addiction and mental illness. None of my Christian friends wanted to confront what was happening. It took a very long time for me to maintain emotional stability, but God really does give us strength through our weaknesses. Now, I deal with teen girls on a daily basis who face rape, abuse, addiction, mental illness, or other issues. Nothing embarrasses me or confuses me. Everyone needs someone who will listen; no one should ever feel alone. God's shown me what a great gift it can be to preach truth and actively listen instead of just spreading a "feel good" message.