Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tired of Christian How-to Books

My shelves are lined with Christian how-to books. I don't mean the words 'how-to' appear in the title, I just mean I have lots of books telling me how to do something better. How to overcome lust, communicate more lovingly, use spiritual gifts,repent, be more disciplined, pray better, pray more, read the Bible, study the Bible, memorize the Bible, know God, serve in the church, raise godly children, improve my marriage, be a good woman (how to dress,cook,clean, and please my family), and generally be a person God likes more or at least can use more

These books certainly contain some helpful things in varying degrees, but what they all seem to have in common is some kind of rules, methods, and/or pat answers to help us overcome the age-old problem of our sinful imperfections. And what these books are really saying is 'Jesus isn't really enough'. I mean, we can't really trust the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and guide us into truth and ultimately change us from the inside out. We're really no different then before we were saved, and we need all manner of striving to adhere to processes and programs and steps in order to bring about change.

Perhaps I'm overstating the case, and I know there are exceptions to this. Some books actually point you back to God in a real way that turns your attention away from yourself and toward his life-changing love and grace.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I've been a Christian almost my whole life, and any true change I've ever experienced has always been a direct result from having encountered the Living God, not getting hold of a list of steps to follow. Where any book, even the Bible, has triggered change in me, it has been as a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to convict me, change my heart, and fill me with desire and power to be different. Hard work and discipline are not the root and vine which we cling to and draw from to produce good fruit; they are only fruit themselves. If we are inconsistent and lazy, it's a sign that we're not abiding in the true vine and whatever we are plugging into is lacking true power. We are known by our fruit and the answer to good fruit is good root. And if we need pruning, it will be done by our Father.

John 15:1-5 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.


Don said...

I agree with you. There are only a few "how to"-type Christian books that have had a major effect on my life, but actually right now I can't name any of them!

Most of my change has come from live teachings that have focused on scriptural passages, drawn principles from those passages, and then confronted me (as part of the listening audience) with the need to ask the Spirit's help to change (repent!) my thinking/renew my mind and my behavior.

The second way has been confrontation by others who've seen in my behavior/words the need for me to conform to the Word.

Gavin White said...

Good Post - the power of the living word combined with the anointing of the Holy Spirit that abides and remains in God's people is the key to a life being changed to be more like Jesus day by day!