I remember one summer taking a biology class at a local university. I had called my husband (who was my fiancé at the time) crying, and I mean “ugly crying,” because I was so affected by one of my classes. My professor, who was an atheist, was presenting what she believed was scientific evidence that there could not be a God, and why the notion of a created earth was absurd. I said to him, “Dave, you should have heard her...it was so cunning, she appeared so convincing. If I didn’t know the truth for myself, I would feel ridiculous for believing what I do.” My heart broke for the other students, for my professor, and for the hundreds of thousands that would hear similar lectures.” I have been having a similar experience over the last few years related to notions of mental and emotional health. Man! There are some VERY CONVINCING philosophies out there. There are also some VERY CONVINCING half-truths and watered-down versions of these philosophies floating around in every environment including the Christian church. My heart breaks. At times I feel a little helpless seeing how many around me accept these messages as forms of increased health, insight, and enlightenment. They SOUND truthful, they SOUND good...but they are laden with the promotion and glorification of self, and the consequent de-throning of the absolute authority of God over our lives. “YOU are the author of your life,” “Follow YOUR dreams,” “YOU are enough,” self love, self direction, self, self, self… honestly, sometimes it makes me want to scream. You see, not that long ago, I believed these lies. I was so blinded, I led groups of struggling women to these very lies with the promise that they would be healed of emotional distress if they loved themselves more. It’s a slippery slope for sure. It sounds beautiful, it sounds so positive...it is leading us to destruction. There IS such a thing as truth...and this is NOT it. This, my friends, is simply “high-sounding nonsense.” I am personally SO grateful for God’s salvation and consequent sanctification. Paul’s letters are some of my favorite scriptures to read. Paul speaks with conviction as one who had previously “bought into” the laws and false philosophies of the Jewish culture. One who KNOWS how convincing these deceitful philosophies are because he was once the one doing the convincing in his opposition of Jesus Christ and the church. Here are a few passages that help me on my journey to abandoning the deceitful philosophies I’ve bought into:
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” Colossians 2:6-8 NLT
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)” 2 Timothy 3:1-7 NLT
I know for me the reasons that I bought into these messages is that I was starved for someone to tell me that I was worthwhile, and that I was loved, and accepted. I falsely believed that I had to take control and ownership of that loving and accepting of myself because who else would? The thing I’m most grateful for in my ongoing sanctification process is that I am increasingly getting to know a God who loves and accepts me and sees me as more worthwhile than I could EVER see myself. When we abandon the love of ourselves, we gain more than we could ever imagine...experiencing the love of a Savior.