Saturday, November 5, 2011

Goodbye self-improvement

The desire to change [is good] but it isn't exclusively Christian. Everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, wants to change. That's why bookstores are filled with self-help books and meeting halls are filled with people trying to overcome addictions to everything from gambling to pornography to shopping....But there's a problem here for us: self-improvement isn't a Christian construct; death and resurrection are.
Paul wrote, 'For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.' (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
God isn't interested in [our] self-improvement regimens. He isn't impressed by our resolutions to do better, to get those devotions in, pass out tracts, cut down on our online time by fifteen minutes every day, or fast from the shopping channels during Lent. In fact, he isn't impressed with us at all. He's impressed by his Son. He's impressed with the perfect life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ, his beloved Son.
Here's the crux of the matter: you shouldn't hope to be impressed with yourself. Dead people don't worry about impressing others. They don't worry about anything. We need death and resurrection. We should be utterly and entirely impressed with only this: Christ died and was raised. His love was so powerful that he bent under the cruel tree, rested himself upon it, submitted to the hammer and spikes, swallowed his Father's bitter wrath, relinquished his life, and then by the power of the Spirit was raised again. All this for us! Now there's something to be impressed with!...We will not be able to fight victoriously against our sins unless we fight under the banner of the gospel and thereby detach ourselves from our hedonistic plans for self-improvement.
- Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross, pp. 120-1221.


Professional Development said...

While in contrast, one who feels a high level of worth has a more healthy view of themselves, develops positive relationships, and finds comfort in the world and their surroundings.

Self Improvement said...

Somehow what we know to be something bound to cause us pain doesn't hurt so much. We have not been numbed, but we have been enlightened. There may even be a sense of cruel irony; we may mourn the fact that we no longer feel all our pain.