By Not Known
Self-improvement books and DVDs are some of the hottest items to fly off the shelves in bookshops. It seems that we all want to lift our game in some area or another and are looking for tips and techniques to help us get there.
Some of these resources are great. I’m a fan of the Dummies series with its no-nonsense approach, clear layout and plenty of practical applications. Other self-help resources dig deeper and address more basic issues such as how we see ourselves and the world (framing techniques) and especially to address the area of our attitudes.
However, there is a limit to self-help. Self-help can assist us to map the direction of change with precision and even to map the steps to getting there. But, what of the power to change ourselves, especially at the most basic and inner levels? Maybe you can identify with this. Have you set out to effect change in some fundamental aspect of who you are and how you act? May you be succeeded for a time by a massive exertion of the will, but then relapsed to the old default ‘you’? The direction and desire were there, but not the power for change. It’s so frustrating.
The Christian message promises power for change at the most basic level. As Paul puts it, the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). Let’s look at those words.
‘Salvation’ refers to the most basic change possible. It’s much wider than some narrow idea of saving a ‘soul’ from judgement. In its rich Biblical use, it is about the restoration of whole people to human wholeness in its richest and fullest sense. As Jesus said, he came to give life in abundance. That’s salvation to the max!
What kind of power is involved? It’s a massive power – our word ‘dynamite’ comes from the underlying Greek word. It’s massive power because it is God’s power. This goes way beyond the power for self-change that we find within ourselves. Instead, it’s the same power that was there when God created all things with a word and when he raised Jesus from the dead.
This power for salvation comes through the ‘gospel’. The gospel is the message about Jesus and especially how he died and was raised so that people like us can reconnect to God. All this is ours if we put our faith in Jesus. It’s not faith in faith, or faith in ourselves, but faith in Jesus who is God’s Son.
Do you want real power to change for lasting good – look to Jesus. We are dummies if we try self-help here!