Yes, but how?

26 06 2011

Self-help books typically advertise themselves as being able to increase self-awareness and performance, including satisfaction with life. There are thousands of them to choose from – a search on Amazon reveals 19,000+ hardbacks, 77,000+paperbacks, not to mention 5000 audio books and 5000 Kindle editions.  Self-help is big business!

So were Jesus’ early followers pioneers of the self-help phenomenon, the original ‘fear the fear and do it anyway’ generation?  Was Saul a walking advert for ‘change your life in seven days’?

Let’s loop back to a conversation that Jesus had with his followers.  Peter has just declared that Jesus was the Messiah, but it becomes apparent that, although he was one of Jesus’ closest friends, he didn’t really get it.  Jesus then says this –

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? “ (Luke 9:23-25)

Now, I don’t want to diss self-help entirely.  The encouragement to reflect on the purpose of life, to increase self-awareness, to make choices that improve your walk – that’s fine to a point.  But if I am to take Jesus seriously, I need to reflect, consider and choose in a bigger context than myself.  I need to keep remembering that I am not the star of the show…even though I would like to be.

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