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Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

Is Your “Personal Relationship with Jesus” Dysfunctional?

It is possible to find peace in our lives and our various relationships, and we are more likely to find it from God, than we are from men. Along the Salmon River, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

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.

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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.”

Fixer-Upper People

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.

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Too many people these days are

1) ready to identify our lives, personalities, and relationships as dysfunctional

and

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.

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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.

Our relationship with Christ involves a lot of thinking — about Who He is and what He says, as opposed to what others tell us about Him. Queen Anne’s Lace by Steve Henderson. Licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas. iCanvasART, and amazon.com.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Donna — your observation is acutely apt — yes, it is confusing, because everyone is saying sort of the same thing, but very much a different thing, and if we listened to every voice that said it was speaking the truth, the whole truth, and everything we need to do, we wind up being confused.

    Which is what many Christians today are.

    Your solution is the right one — go to the ultimate source of truth — Christ, the Word, and God — and seek the answers there. And as you say, it’s and EXTREME relief — the rest we find in resting in Him is healing indeed.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    An excellent question, Cyndi, and it’s worth asking ourselves this, constantly, so we stop making things more difficult than they need to be!

  • Donna Whitfield

    Carolyn, I breathed a sigh of relief when I read in the last paragraph that “all we have to do is trust him and spend time with HIM”. How wonderful to know spending time with him instead of listening to all of the other voices out there, whether from books, tv sermons, preachers, etc. is what we need. I did all of the other for many years and mostly just became confused because everyone says something different and they each think “their” particular brand of Christianity is the “best” or only “right” way. Thank God for freedom in Him! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Cyndi

    Thank you Carolyn, why do we always avoid the simple route? xoxo

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