Dysfunctional relationships are all the rage these days. Thanks to a satiety of psychology (“Christian” and secular), self-help books, surreality talk shows, and overreaching government agencies fumbling about our private lives, we’re convinced that there’s no such thing as a normal relationship.
Of course there are abnormal relationships — and the more chemicalized we become in the food we eat and the medicine we ingest, the more problems we can expect, externally initiated. At the same time, there are many more normal relationships than what we acknowledge. It’s easy to forget this when we’re bombarded by unsolicited taxpayer-funded, slick brochures like the one coiled in my mailbox, slithered from the stealthily created “Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.”
Seriously? I’d rather rely on wise words from Oprah. Not likely, for me. I’d learn more from Johnny Carson re-runs — he didn’t purport to fix up my life; he just made me laugh.
Too many people these days are
1) ready to identify our lives, personalities, and relationships as dysfunctional
2) poised to “fix this” for us — most notably when we buy their books, tune in to their shows, and send them our check. Lamentably, this includes our relationship with Christ, one that has the potential to be pure, rich, joyous, unadulterated, fully functional — and all of this for free, incidentally, because once we’ve plunked down the funds for our Bible, all we have to do is read it.
Stop Reading about the Book and Read the Book
But we don’t. Rather, we read books about Jesus, and about what He says in the Bible, and we listen to speakers telling us about how Jesus wants us to live, and we never actually communicate with Christ Himself to discover whether what we read and what we hear is accurate.
Here’s a short list to consider when determining whether what we’re absorbing is toxic or not:
He Was More than a Great Teacher
1) “You shall have no other gods before me.” Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish, this passage from Exodus 20: 3 is the first commandment.
Whatever book you’re reading to learn how to deal with life, it’s detritus when it refers to Jesus as “a great enlightened teacher of 2,000 years ago,” and equates His words with that of a Zen Buddhist master.
It’s not that the Zen man has no wise words, it’s that the author you’re reading puts him on the same level as God, or rather, lowers Christ to the level of a mere man.
Paying for “Secrets”
2) “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33: 3)
How many speakers, authors, teachers, and self-described spiritual masters promise secret and hidden information, difficult to find or understand without their guidance?
The truth in the Bible is accessible to all of us — for free — through reading, thinking (many self-help books encourage us to, “empty our minds”), and prayer. Too easily we believe that the “real” message has been revealed to a select, privileged few, who generously offer to “share” this with us, for a fee, of course.
Don’t Be Gullible
3) “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4: 1)
Far too many Christians unquestionably believe stories of near death experiences, encounters with angels, visions, and audible instructions from God by people claiming that others need to listen to what they say, because God works specially through them.
If God is working specially through anyone, then the message will point directly back to — and glorify — God, not the speaker. This is rarely the case.
God’s Power, not Yours
4) “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12: 13)
It’s popular these days to talk about “focusing upon power within,” “tapping into the inner self,” or “unleashing our hidden strength,” but if you’ve got the idea that these are synonyms for the Holy Spirit within you, disabuse yourself of this notion. God’s power is not accessible to us upon our demand, and you won’t get any farther, any faster, in your prayers by visualizing; working yourself into a trance; repeating a particular sound or word; or declaring, announcing, or proclaiming.
Since this is effectively pushing God around, setting ourselves up in His place, it’s highly likely that you will get no response — and that’s the good news. It’s wise to remember that many popular spiritual “techniques” aren’t new at all, but shrouded in the darkness — and occult — of time.
Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock, and we will receive, find, and have the door opened for us. It’s simple, yet complex, but requires nothing more than that we trust Him. You don’t need a seminar, a workbook, another book, or an hour with a speaker on TV — you just need time, alone, with Jesus.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I do my small part in waking people up to the deceit that pervades the very air we breathe.
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