I love reading people’s differing reactions to big, juicy, topics of our day. I shouldn’t, but I do. The way people perceive the same things so differently fascinated me. My blog friend Jen Oshman wrote an amazing article yesterday at the Gospel Coalition reviewing the newest self-help/Christian book by motivational speaker Rachel Hollis. I would highly recommend reading her thoughts, they are fair and Biblically sound. For something marketed to Christian women, there is reason to be concerned. The book pushes Jesus far out to the sidelines and encourages women to be selfish, self-absorbed, shameless social climbers and dream-chasers. Although I wouldn’t read it, lots of women I know do choose to pick it up and soak it in. They quote it and post excerpts because it makes them feel something, it stirs the mind, body and heart to get it together and do better.
We have to be able to have intelligent conversations with ourselves and others about why we read and think the way we do. Too often, I hear about women reading this kind of thing, feeling both inspired and frustrated and not sure what to do about it. Something is off, but they keep on reading, accepting at face value the ideas as absolute truth, and they are left with some big questions.
The article relates to the book, but goes beyond it into some questions we all should be asking ourselves. Oshman calls the crux of the message both “exhausting and damning“. That is serious stuff. We can’t just live awesomely and plow over people on the way to our dreams. My favorite quote is this:
“We were made to be more than self-made. We are God-made. God-rescued. God-loved. Only as we orient our lives and dreams around Him will we experience true and lasting joy.”
I don’t think it’s too terribly controversial to say Jesus doesn’t promote us promoting ourselves. He loves us, has good plans for us, but dedicating our lives to our own awesome image is just gross. I’m pretty sure it’s also idolatry.
The steady diet of motivational DIY spirituality should be giving us indigestion. But like a Snickers bar at 3pm, we still crave it.
It’s a healthy discussion I think… one that will never be put to rest and that’s ok. We need to understand why we are drawn to the things we are drawn to… good and bad… wise and frivolous… so that we can make solid, life-giving choices. Jesus is the reference point, though. Not our dreams, aspirations or fragile egos. Don’t call the Bible “nuanced” when it’s clear. Don’t create tension where God has given an abundance of truth and grace.
Lent is upon us… we remember that we are dust, but are not condemned to remain dust. We actually are made for more, as the shiny new books tell us. God doesn’t want to take away or deprive us of our dreams, but He probably would like us to examine how much of our big giant selves we are inserting into the space that should be reserved for Him alone.
He gets to be first. We need to come in a strong third, maybe fourth even. Love God, love others, chase those dreams, but please… remember they originated with Him, not ourselves, and finding earthly fame at the expense of your soul is a terrible trade off.