I have noticed that there are a lot of people out there claiming that if you read their new book, your life will improve drastically. For instance, how many more “Irrefutable or Invaluable Laws” can someone come up with? At what point do we just say that people come out with books because they make money…let’s just be honest about it. But, the world we live in revolves around positive news and influence, as if a person can write a book and solve all the problems for people….and charge them for it!!! I would think there needs to be a better way, especially since we have churches that are selling these books for profit in their buildings. A major problem from this is that now people view the Bible as a “Self Help” book and I believe that we need to get away from this mentality.
First off, is not the idea that we need to pay money for information that supposedly is beneficial commentary on the bible so that one can better themselves, a little ridiculous? Is it not consumerism at a religious level to sell opinions of the bible? Is it not profit off of pain? You find someone who is hurting,reassure them that they are hurting, and then sell them something that may or may not be helpful. This world has us turned upside down so much that we feel there is no other way to translate the Word of God to others than by a transaction. Everything has been reduced down to a transaction! I’m not saying that everyone should just do everything for free. But what I am saying is, is that we look very much like the world and it is time to look at ourselves as followers of Christ and come out of the system.
A huge part of this is the idea that we can market the verses from the bible as a collection for a “Self Help” book. We have all seen the books…..they are about money, relationships, leadership, a better life, mentoring, ethics, and even winning in business. A lot of them will give 5, 10, or even as many as 21 laws that you need to follow to achieve success. Then follows the 5 to 10 week sermons at churches that “unpack” all there is to learn and encourage you to go buy the books from their bookstore. To me, marketing the bible as a “Self Help” book seems to be going in the wrong direction. It’s the direction of consumerism…which we are plagued by…if you can’t tell. Is it not time to re-evaluate what we are doing…or even encouraging?
Instead, would it not be nice to know that a person wants the absolute best for another out of other-centered love that is empowered by the example of Jesus and encouraged by the Holy Spirit? If I tell you I have what you need to know and then I charge you to get it, am I really any better than the Capitalist that wants you to be discontent so they can sell you something to make you happy? Jesus came to show us life by a better way than the world. He came to lay down His life that we may enter eternal life and live in this better way. The way of Jesus Christ is the direct opposite of the world but the world wants to fix you by selling you the next “great and latest” thing. God wants you to know and understand that He has done everything for you and that you are completely fixed through Christ….not by buying a “Self Help” book that is taken from opinions of the bible.
Nor can we view the bible itself this way either…as a book on how to give us a more “successful life”. Success can be viewed many ways…. the bible views it by how much you give while the world views it by how much you gain. One focuses on others while the other focuses on selfish desires. And self help books seem to feed that later by selfishly focusing on ourselves. In contrast, the bible tells us to love others and think of them first… not ourselves. So, the bible will show us to focus on the needs of others and deny ourselves…which is “Other-centered love”.
The bible has been given to show a glimpse of who God is and how much He loves us. That He came to earth as a human being and lived the life that He wants us to live. Laying His own life down to prove His love for us and declaring Victory for us against the Accuser that has brought unmerited charges against us. This is the Gospel and you cannot put this in a 5 step plan or sell workbooks on it to get results. Only God can change us and He has fixed us through Christ on the cross…now we just need to believe He did and live the way that Jesus Christ has laid down for us…. to love your neighbor as yourself as an act of worship and walk in relationship with the Father, Son ,and Holy Spirit.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we saw that God’s Word is a love story between Him and us? We can put rules, laws, and steps to follow in books all day long….. but it does not create love. The only thing that creates love is relationship….. So put the “Self Help” books down, quit looking at the bible as a “Self Help” book and just go love on another person as God has done to you.