Monday, October 26, 2015

The Sovereignty of God in a Self-Help World

The sovereignty of God is not nearly as sexy a topic as how to lose weight, manage my money, reduce stress, or make friends and influence people. Everywhere I turn I find another blog or book or podcast telling me how to make my life more efficient, effective, and controlled.

David Allen tells me how to Get Things Done. James Clear shows me how to Transform My Habits. John Acuff inspires me to Start being awesome. Kary Oberbrunner emails me to get clarity on who I am and where I'm going to Ignite my Soul. And Oprah is ubiquitous.

I'm no enemy to growth and maturity, but all these resources resound with the message: me, Me, ME!

Maximize MY Potential. Discover MY Purpose. Do It MYself.

Our culture is not unique in its enthronement of the Self. This drive for transcendence is traceable back to the book of Genesis. The original lie from the Garden of Eden still echoes. "We can be like God."

Sadly, when we believe this lie, we not only set ourselves up for failure, disappointment, and judgment (e.g., Adam, Gideon, Saul, David, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod), but we neglect our primary calling: to give praise to God (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Our rightful place is not the throne -- that is God's -- but the altar (Romans 12:1-2).

Champions for humility, contentment, sacrifice, and denial will not get much air time in a Self-Help World. G.K. Chesterton noted this form of thinking even back in his day.

A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert--himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. (Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 23)

Social Darwinism, Scientific Naturalism, and Self-Helpism are Sirens. They lure the Self only to shipwreck it. But in the call of the Sovereign God there is fullness, joy, purpose, and hope. God's sovereignty is rich, spanning the course of time, assuring His promises, withstanding our pain, including our prayers/deeds, and working for His glorious good (cf., Gen. 50:20; Ps. 115:3; Is. 46:9-10; Acts 2:23-24; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11; Rev. 4:11).

These truths may not be sexy, but they are orthodox. And, according to Chesterton, orthodoxy is more appealing. "There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy."

Now if I could only lose those last three pounds...

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