Friday, May 06, 2011

Jesus Is Not a Self-Help Guru

Here is a good quote/rant from Jeff Dunn over at Internet Monk. Click for the full rant. I do not necessarily agree with all on the site, but they often offer an interesting and challenging perspective. It was in response to what he felt was a lot of "self help" styled sermons/small groups that he has been seeing.

"Let me just say this straight out. If all you are interested in is becoming is a better person, then Jesus is not your best avenue to get there. You can find lots of self-help books—and in Christian bookstores without embarrassing references to Jesus to worry about—that deal with marriage, health, finances and life-issues you find yourself dealing with. They are piled high on tables leading into the temple. As a matter of fact, you can buy them in many temples every Sunday, credit cards accepted.

Jesus is not a self-help guru. He is not interested in you becoming a better person. He could not care less with you improving in any area of your life. Because in the end that is your life. Yours. And he demands you give it to him. All of it. An unconditional surrender. He did not come to improve you, or encourage you, or spur you on to bigger and better things. He came to raise the dead. And if you insist on living, then you’re on your own. Good luck. Sign up for all the seminars, workshops and marriage improvement weekends that you can, because you’re going to need them.

The Gospel is this: We are dead in our sins. Jesus, too, is dead in our sins. But because he is very God of very God, death could not hold him. He conquered sin and death and rose again. And the only life we are now offered is the life he lives in us. Period. He wants us dead. He’ll do the rest."

He is a little spicy. I like it. He goes on to ask. How many churches are preaching this? - "Come and Die With Us" That is definitely not what packs the sanctuary (or auditorium or stadium). But it seems that, at the least, it ought to be part of the message we hear.

If there is no death of self, then there is no reason for being identified with the resurrection of Christ (through baptism). If there is no death, the resurrection means little. If there is no If there is no bad news, the Good news is meaningless.


Kwame E. said...

To the contrary, why does the New Testament have all this talk of sanctification and the building of character if Jesus is uninterested in making anyone to be better people?

Nevertheless, I do understand where the quote/rant is coming from, even if it is a bit heavy-handed.

D.B. said...

That is a good point, Kwame. I don't have a good consistant and logical answer for you. This is one of the challenges I have been dealing with. That is why he characterizes his rant as a rant. :-)

I think the church has too often focused on the easy 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 steps/princliples/ a better life in God. Now, don't get me wrong; I love lists.

Our pastor pointed out Sunday that we also really love Law. We like our rules. And that is what the lists are generally filled with-"Law-light" as Michael Horton has suggested. But law nonetheless.

Perhaps it would be better for the pastors of these churches to read the Scripture that talk about sanctification and see God's way of doing it, versus this peusdo-psycho-babble with a "God-sprinkling" that is sometimes passed off as a sermon.