Do these titles sound in any way familiar? Christian teachers preach and write on topics such as these a lot. They start by telling us how we’re doing it all wrong and then offer us the alternative solutions they’ve discovered. Some of us become hopelessly overwhelmed — first, by the extent of our revealed failure, and second, by the myriads of steps we must take to fix ourselves. We feel tempted to cry out in despair, “Why should I even try? I’ll be sure to do something wrong to keep me from receiving what I need from God anyway! Why does it have to be so hard???!!!”
The truth is, the message presented by many of these teachers is basically flawed. It is a humanistic, self-help approach, just like the secular world churns out. Based on following methods and formulas (backed up with a smattering of isolated Bible verses, of course), it is all about depending on yourself, not on God. You determine your own destiny by either doing all the stuff right or doing it wrong. Mess up? Too bad. You should have followed the game plan laid out by Christian Expert So-and-So.
The true Bible message, however, is quite the opposite. We are to depend, not on ourselves, but on Jesus. Consider what our Lord said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It’s like a fresh, revitalizing breeze washing over you, isn’t it?
Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has been whispering to mankind, “You can have all the knowledge for yourself. You can be like God.” It was an invitation then to rebellious independence, and the message has not changed. It has only been repackaged by well-meaning Christian teachers and sometimes backed up with Bible verses which make it seem right. Meanwhile, the Lord has been calling to us, “You can’t do it yourself. You never could. Come to Me, and depend on Me. I want to help you.”
The deception is in putting a formula first, with a dash of God thrown in. The truth is in making relationship with the Unlimited One our foremost priority and then letting Him lead us. He wants to show His might on our behalf, to override our weakness with His strength as we walk through life’s difficulties with our hand in His.
The Pharisees of old made it difficult for their listeners to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 23:13). Likewise, some Christian teachers today are hindering God’s children from entering into a joyful, victorious life by placing the emphasis on ourselves, rather than on Jesus. Perhaps 2 Corinthians 11:3 is an appropriate verse for us to freshly apply: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”
“The simplicity which is in Christ.” Let’s remember that.
My next post will be an extension of these thoughts. We’ll talk about some current teaching on intercession which I find troubling, and how we can receive answers to our prayers without striving in the flesh.
All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam