Self-help isn’t the cure-all that it is touted to be. Although there is something to say for independence and accountability, trusting solely in your self is a recipe for failure. In part, the proof of this is that “self-help” books exist. If human beings were able to rely solely on themselves, they would not need the input or support of others, via “self-help” books to solve their issues. The secular world would like you to believe that there is no problem that you can’t solve, if you just put in a little hard work and introspective. This is simply not true. Human beings are designed, even desire to be in relationship. Whether a parental/child, sibling/sibling, co-worker/friend, or husband/wife; humans want to be in relationships.
According to a landmark paper by psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary it’s because of a fundamental “need to belong.” Baumeister and Leary go on to list 8 identifiable principles as evidence that support their hypothesis. In the words of the Baumeister and Leary, “it seems fair to conclude that human beings are fundamentally and pervasively motivated by a need to belong, that is, by a strong desire to form and maintain enduring interpersonal attachments.” I think it’s also fair to conclude that without the need to belong, the science of relationships would not exist. So if as human’s we have a fundamental “need to belong”, proved by science, why are so many always searching for the “self-fix”?
God tells us that as humans we are flawed. Not because God made us flawed, but because we made a decision to ignore His divine instructions, and now we must suffer the consequences. (Genesis 3: 16-19) In this illustration, God let humans know that there are consequences for his/her actions. God lets us know that we are not to rely on ourselves, because as humans, we are weak. God also makes it clear that trusting ourselves only leads to disaster. He makes it clear that as humans, we need to put our trust and faith in Him. In Exodus 34: 13-15 the Lord sends this message to His people:
13 Instead, you must break down their pagan altars, smash their sacred pillars, and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. 15 “You must not make a treaty of any kind with the people living in the land. They lust after their gods, offering sacrifices to them. They will invite you to join them in their sacrificial meals, and you will go with them.
If we then accept that we are dependent on relationships, how can we accept the science and deny God? I believe that God proves the science. Throughout the Bible there are instances after instances where God tells us to put ourselves into relationship with Him. A few examples include: Leviticus 26:46, Joshua 22:28, Psalm 24:5, Luke 12:21, Romans 4:13, Romans 5:11, Colossians 1:28, 2 John 1:9. Not only does God want us in relationship with Him, He wants us in relationship with each other. A few references of that are: Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Ephesians 5:28, 1 Timothy 3:12, Proverbs 17:6, Acts 3:25, 1 Samuel 20:17, 3 John 1:6.
Throughout the Bible God tells us that relationships are good. Relationships with Him and each other. God is clear however, that the priority relationship, is in Him. We see that above in Exodus 34:14. God is Jealous. He is jealous about his relationship with us. Once we have that relationship established, then we can seek relationships with each other. I say, “Once we have that relationship established…”, because we can never have that relationship “right”. We are sinners at our very being and in our very soul. It is important to understand this fact. Only with the Holy Spirit and Grace of God, can our relationship with Him be established. Amazingly, once that relationships is established, no matter how often we sin, if we let Him, God will continue to strengthen that relationship. He will continue to convict our hearts. A friend of mine put it like this… “we still sin, we just don’t enjoy it anymore”. I think this is a great assessment of how our relationship with God will continue to grow, once the relationship is established.
This fact, the fact that God wants us to be in relationship with Him first and each other second, is counterproductive to the secular world. Peace and harmony are not good for secularism. Opposition and divisiveness are what is good for a secular world. War, fighting, racism, judgement, and general conflict are what our society pushes for. Take a look at the papers. The homosexual agenda is being promoted, even in some churches. Nations who publicly state that they want to see the destruction of the United States are being given not only the weapons to make that possible, but the authority to make that possible. If the World Leaders making these decisions were in a relationship with Him first, do you think these type of things would be happening?
I believe the reason for this, is that as a society, we are being systematically programmed to deny faith in anything other than ourselves. God is being destroyed and surgically removed from all areas of our world outside the walls (and even inside the walls) of the church. If we speak about God in public, we run the risk of not just ridicule, but persecution for our beliefs, and we feel intimidated. Why? Paul tell us in 2 Corinthians 11:23-12:10 that speaking out for God is difficult:
23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served Him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. 32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. 33 I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn in the Flesh
12 This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. 3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know 4 that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. 5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said,“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Why as Christians does this surprise us? Why are we afraid to be bold in faith?(Ephesians 3:12) Make no mistake, opening your heart and surrendering your will to God is scary at first. However, this action, and this action alone is what will begin to establish what God calls the most important relationship. The relationship that He is jealous for. The relationship between God and yourself. Being a Christian is easy, being a disciple is hard. God tells us that Himself in John 6: 60-70:
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” 61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them,“Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65 Then he said,“That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” 66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.”
Jesus knew that even among His chosen 12, one would betray him. Yet God still allowed that relationship to be established. That relationship showed the power of God’s Grace and the frailty of the human spirit. When man tried to rely on himself, it accomplished two missions. It fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament about Jesus’ death and betrayal, and it cost God, His Son’s life. So if both, God and science, say that relationships are a fundamental human “need to belong”, why are we as Christians so afraid to speak about our God?
The secular world wants to drive a wedge between God and as many people as possible. This happens by promoting non-biblical teaching and by telling people their situation is not their fault. The secular world continues the lie, by telling people all they need is themselves… “You don’t need anyone or anything to thrive, all you need is to focus on yourself and your abilities”. The sad part of this is that the Christians are caving, and the secular world is winning.
Take a stand today, say “I am a Christian and I need God”. Tell the people you see in line at the supermarkets and bookstores… “I don’t need some self-help book, I have a God help book, it’s called the Bible”