Home » Wish I'd Said That » Christianity is not a self-help religion

Christianity is not a self-help religion

Chances are you can start to identify a pattern in my devotional material; when I read Elyse Fitzpatrick I have a lot to blog about. Probably I should just convince you to buy the book, but since I don’t trust you to do that and the message is SO important I will just post incredibly large excerpts… let’s read together, shall we?

‘How do the truths of the gospel become nothing more than insignificant white noise?  Why does John 3.16 bore us?  It bores us for at least two reasons, one more insidious than the other.

We naively press the gospel out to the margins of our faith because we have never really been taught how it’s meant to connect with our daily lives.  One day I had a conversation with a dear friend who told me about struggles she was having in a relationship.  I asked her, ‘how do you think the resurrection impacts this circumstance?’

She replied, ‘I know that it should but I just don’t know how.’

I think that we all have a sneaking suspicion that the truths of the gospel ought to mean something more to us than they do, but we don’t know how to make those connections.  Yes, the incarnation, perfections, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ ought to have a practical impact on our daily walk, but just how those dots connect isn’t really clear.

More insidiously, I think we relegate the gospel to the back of our religious bus because, although we may admit our spiritual impotence with our lips, deep in our hearts we remain convinced of our own ability to live a moral life.

We also fear loss of control.  It is unsettling and humiliating to realize how utterly dependent we are on having Someone Else do for us what we cannot do for ourselves: change our heart’s affections and desires.  As long as I have a ‘list to work on,’ I can keep my hands on the reins of my life and on my struggle against sin.  So even though the gospel shouts to us that we are depraved, that we deserve a shameful death and an eternity in hell, that we must be given someone else’s righteousness in order to stand before a holy God, we continue to think that if we could just find the key to holy living, we’d be able to work it out.  Just give me a list!  Teach me the right prayer!  Introduce me to the right counselor!

It’s no wonder that self-help books top the charts in Christian publishing and that counseling offices are overwhelmed.  Our pride and our neglect of the gospel force us to run from seminar to seminar, book to book, counselor to counselor, always seeking but never finding some secret to holy living.

Most of us have never really understood that Christianity is not a self-help religion meant to enable moral people to become more moral.  We don’t need a self-help book; we need a Savior.  We don’t need to get our collective act together; we need death and resurrection and the life-transforming truths of the gospel.  And we don’t need them just once, at the beginning of our Christian life; we need them very moment of every day.’

Elyse Fitzpatrick

Counsel from the Cross

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