Good afternoon parents! This week, we begin looking at the various “isms”, or false philosophies, that the authors of “Mama Bear Apologetics” write to address. We are now getting into the “meat” of the book!
Chapter Five in “Mama Bear Apologetics” covers the topic of “self-helpism”. A multibillion dollar industry exists which preaches that through positive thinking, self-examination, and goal setting, we can become better versions of ourselves. At first glance, we might think, “What is so dangerous about self-helpism? Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to become a better person. In fact, it’s a goal we should strive for, and becoming a better person always requires a fair amount of effort on our part. The danger within self-helpism is the subtle notion that to fix what is fundamentally wrong with us, we have only to look inward, rather than upward. Thus, self-help can quickly become self-worship, also known as idolatry.
The truth is that as much as we try to improve ourselves, we cannot through our own effort solve our greatest dilemma- that we are sinners in need of a Savior, wholly incapable of fixing ourselves, and that only Christ can transform us into all He has created us to be. Where self-helpism says you can become all you desire through your own effort, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The self-help industry identifies self as the answer, but Scripture says that a Person outside of the self is the real answer. In Christ alone can we find our identity, our purpose, and our calling.
At the heart of it, any idea or philosophy that takes our dependance away from God is a step toward heartbreak, loss, and spiritual dysfunction. God reminded ancient Israel of this through the prophet Isaiah, who said to a nation looking to everyone but God for answers, “Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come- yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:7-8)
In this passage, Isaiah lays out two important reasons we can trust God to be our Rock, our secure foundation. First, Isaiah mentions what God has done in the past, how He has worked on behalf of His people throughout history. In the 8th Century B.C., this meant remembering the Exodus from Egypt, God settling His people in the Promised Land, and the rise of the David’s Dynasty. For us in the New Testament era, we know we can trust God to guide us through life because of the historical life and work of Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection provides our adoption as God’s children and gives us access to God’s throne of grace. When we are struggling with self-identity, loss, and sin, we don’t need to go looking for answers in the latest self-help guru. We have an open invitation to the throne room of Heaven. As the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Besides mentioning God’s work in the past, Isaiah also reminds us that God alone knows the future. Where self-helpism calls you to imagine your own future, we remember that our God knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11), that He has created good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), and that we will by God’s grace stand one day before His throne in Heaven, not by our own effort, but through our coming King, Jesus Christ!
So the danger of the self help movement is it can draw us away from the only Source of life, light, and spiritual renewal and toward false idols and self-worship. As parents, let us encourage our children to consistently seek the Lord when confronted by the difficult questions in life. There is no other Rock, no foundation other than Jesus! Let’s keep the focus on Him!
In His Grace,