Quotes of Jesus

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!"--Jesus

A Special Message from Andy

If you are new to this blog, I invite you to begin reading the We Are At War series with its first installment The Reality posted in January 1, 2012. All other installments are posted in sequential order.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Problem with Tips and Techniques

These days I have to prepare myself when recommending a book for someone. Just the other day I was approached by a man and his wife. Things were no longer as they were meant to be in their marriage, like on the day of their wedding. Just as I began to mention a book for them to read, the lady stopped me.
"We've tried that!"
Counseling? "That, too!" Praying together? You guessed it. They have been victims of tips and techniques Christianity.

We are bombarded with a myriad of tips and techniques. Try any bookstore and go to the self-help section. There you will find hundreds of titles giving ten, twelve, fifteen steps to a better life, marriage, child, whatever. Most pulpits today are delivering similar messages to their congregants.

We've limited the gospel to a type of spiritual humanistic psychology written in Christianese. When Christ came, he did not bring ten steps to being a better Jew. There were no five point sermons on how to relate better with other people. The people already had the Ten Commandments, but they were not meant to "save" them. Instead, the commandments showed them they needed a savior.

If tips and techniques were all we ever needed, then there would have been no need for Christ to go to the cross. We could save ourselves. The gospel would have become one among the "Do It Yourself" guides. It's not our work, but the work of Christ that accomplishes God's purposes in us. It is the life Jesus has to offer.
But what life is that exactly, if not tips and techniques?
It is the freedom to truly live from our hearts. It is freedom to accomplish great things, take a stand, and embrace a larger world. It is freedom to love your wife in a way that unveils her beauty and to father your children to become all they are capable of becoming. Freedom to find your place, your calling in God's kingdom, which was inscribed on your heart since before the day you were born.

This life only comes we when allow Jesus to free our hearts of all that has wounded, all that holds us captive and imprisoned. To make right what has been wrong. (Isaiah 61, 1-3) To awaken us to the purest and truest desires He has written on our hearts.

If Jesus had a three point sermon, it was Luke 4:23. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me"(NKJV).
Possessing the kind of freedom mentioned above will require much from us, too much on our own. It will require a heart that places its own selfishness aside. It will require a will to lay down our lives for a larger story. It will require an obedient spirit to surrender to the voice of God. These are not tips and techniques, but life-saving gifts from Jesus made possible by his glorious cross.
By the way, the book I recommended to that couple? Its Love And War by John & Stacy Eldredge. No tips and techniques. None. Check it out for yourselves.