Walking into any Christian bookstore the self-help section seems to be growing everyday. More and more Christians are interested in practical ways of living their life. Titles of books seem to center around finances, raising children, finding their purpose, making decisions, and many other practical subjects. It seems also that church sermons are taking on a similar feel; longing to become relevant to a culture that is becoming more and more disinterested in church.
The question that keeps coming to mind, and one that I feel we all need to ask ourselves is, was Jesus a self- help teacher? Reading through the gospels gives us a clear picture of who Jesus was and what His teachings centered on. They seem to focus on love, belief, faith, and the severity of sin. He seemed too long first to rekindle the relationship with the sinner and made it the utmost importance. It appeared that the practical actions of the saved sinner naturally flowed out of that loving relationship.
The self-help people of that time seemed to be the teachers and religious leaders of Israel. The Pharisees and Sadducees were always a constant reminder of the way that one should practically live. Yet, Jesusí teaching confused and upset them for He seemed to go to the heart of the outward actions instead of just dealing with things on a practical level. The fact is that these religious leaders were unable to accept Jesus because He did not practically fit into their way of life and list of rules.
Is that same danger still alive in the church today? Does our desire for self-help stem from a desire to know more of God and be changed by Him, or is it simply an attempt to fit God into our lives? If only practicality is our goal then we are at risk of becoming like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesusí time. When Jesus truly does come and try to work in our lives we may end up rejecting Him because He does not fit property into our practical self-help world.
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