Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Looking for Help in All the Wrong Places

"Health through Drug-Free Therapy." "Don't Tie Yourself Up in 'Nots.'" "If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules." "Thoughts that Harm, Thoughts that Heal." "The Seven Stages of Power and Healing." "If At First You Don't Succeed, Buy This Book." "Beyond Blame." "Overcoming Low Self-Esteem." "Shyness, A Bold New Approach." "The Culture of Fear, Why Americans Are Afraid of Wrong Things." These really are only a few titles of self-help books on the market. If they were succeeding, we'd need less of them, and the authors would be out of a job. They're not working and they really aren't even designed to succeed. They're really just looking for help, but in all the wrong places.

God wants us to be happy. [T]he living God . . . giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Tim. 6:17). The whole book of 1 John was written so "that your joy may be full" (1:4). The things God has written, He has written for our happiness. Jesus said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (Jn. 13:17). Since God knows us better than we know ourselves; He created us and sustains us, then He also knows what will make us happy. He wants us to have joy, so much so that this is a basic theme of the entire epistle of Philippians. Every parent wants His child(ren) to have joy. In one sense God is the "Father of all" (Eph. 4:6), and He wants His children to be happy and have joy. Instead, life is full of misery and suffering and depression, among many other negative emotions. It isn't because of Him. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

True fulfillment is found in Christ. "In Him . . . all fulness dwells" (Col. 1:19) and "ye are complete in Him" (Col. 2:10). How do we get in Christ? By faith alone in Him. We are "found in Him . . . through faith of Christ" (Philip. 3:9). Being in Christ guarantees fulfillment for the long haul, but we won't experience it every day unless we submit to Him as Head. "Christ is the head of the church" (Eph. 5:23), "head of the body, the church" (Col. 1:18). People want the happiness of the Lord without submitting to the Lord of happiness. Fulfillment in Christ is experienced in the church. God intends each believer to fit into a church as a member, a body part (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12). In the church, a person will receive true counsel from the Lord from the other body parts working together. Ephesians 4:16 says, "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Sounds like good therapy, doesn't it?

You will not, I repeat, will not experience the fulfillment and, therefore, happiness of God outside of a church. God designed the church so that we could obey Him and be happy. God didn't make us to be happy doing our own thing. That is why the place for true help is in the church, not in a place of our design, including self-help, whether in books or through professional psychiatry. These aren't even band-aids. Both the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) and the church (Eph. 3:10) are sufficient. God designed the body life of the church to engender psychological, mental, and spiritual well-being. That gets accomplished when the body parts "love" one another, "teach" one another, "admonish" one another, "support" one another, "strengthen" one another, "exhort" one another, "edify" one another, "restore" one another with a spirit of meekness, "confess your faults" one to another, "comfort" one another, "provoke" one another to love and good works, and also "warn" one another. Through this interaction among believers, they experience the fulfillment Christ has already given them in Him. This kind of life however rarely occurs in most churches today when it is not only in the New Testament, but represents the very essence of the New Testament. It's not just being in the church, but being the body part that God intended. That means listening to the Head and doing what He says.

Fitting into a church requires humility. Romans 12:3 calls this thinking less "highly" of himself "than he ought to think." Life is like a race with a finish line, but the goal isn't to get there first. The goal is to get there together with as many people as possible. Galatians 6:2 calls this bearing one another's burdens. God wants us to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6), but we don't walk alone. We walk with all the others in the church, and in so doing, we also get the help that we need and a happiness we must have been missing, all because we were looking for it in all the wrong places. The church is the place and today is the first day of the rest of your life. What are you waiting for?


Unknown said...

Excellent post. I particularly appriciate the list of things we should do with 'one another' in the context of church. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

One day, a farmer was having a problem with his donkey. The donkey was supposed to be pulling the farmer's fruit and vegetable cart, but the animal refused to move. He just stubbornly sat there, refusing to get up. A passerby saw the farmer's predicament and offered to help, saying, "I can get your donkey to move."

When the farmer expressed his thanks, the good Samaritan picked up a big stick lying in the road and smacked the donkey across the head! Horrified, the farmer demanded, "Why did you hit my donkey?! You said you were going to make him get up and move!"

The passerby replied, "I am, but I have to get his attention first."

Kent Brandenburg said...

Very funny anonymous. Thanks for your contribution. And you got my attention. Ooops, that makes me the.....