Walk into any Christian bookstore and stare at the aisles and rows of books. Peruse the titles, and what do you find? Books that dangerously borderline self-help – with a godly twist.
There are books that can help you…
optimize your finances,
manage your anger,
and make you a successful business leader.
There are volumes of pages dedicated to…
helping singles find a mate,
teenagers find self-worth,
and mothers organize their days.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with these things, but something about it unsettles my soul. I’ve been trying to reconcile it for weeks.
On one hand, our lifestyles should be holy & different from the world, but when you look at the titles and the subject matters, it feels as if we aren’t trying to be different from the world. We are trying to succeed in it. We are trying to find godly ways to succeed in how the world defines success – which is often exactly the opposite of what God deems as successful.
The Israelites were in similar straits (see 1 Samuel 8). They wanted a king like everyone else. I used to think the problem was that they wanted a king, but actually, the problem was they failed to recognize God as their King because He didn’t look like those in the nations around them.
They wanted a king like everyone else.
Similarly, we want success like everyone else. The problem isn’t wanting success. The problem is in how we define it. The problem isn’t using books to help us. The problem is rejecting God’s definition just as the Israelites rejected their King.
We want success like everyone else.
It’s such a fine line that we, as Christians, are called to walk – to be in the world but not conformed by it (Romans 12:2). It requires us to continually focus on what God thinks is important; to know what His priorities are; to understand what He desires of us; and to do the things He finds pleasing. This is so very hard when we are bombarded with the world’s priorities and its desires. It is so easy to get sidetracked by what the world finds as desirable and what it tells us is important.
Our weapon is immersing ourselves in His Word. It is there – in the precious pages of Scripture – where we are reminded that His ways are often counter to our culture. It is there that we find solace in knowing that – though His ways are sometimes difficult, usually uncomfortable, and often misunderstood – they are true and perfect. It is between those pages of ancient text where we find God’s definition of success. And if we are successful by God’s standards, we can rest assured that our reward will be of far more value than anything this world has to offer (Matthew 16:25-26).
In what ways do you think God’s view of success is counterintuitive to the world’s?