As an author, I subscribe to a number of book recommendation services. I always sign up for the Christian Non-Fiction or Inspirational/Devotional categories.
Holy Cow! It’s a shocker to see what passes for good spiritual instruction and exhortation these days.
Suffice it to say that I consider many/most of the books I see to be humanistic, mystical or self-help through and through. And this is what the world thinks should be labeled as “Christian”. [shakes head]
Once upon a time, people knew what “Christian” was. it was a label that was well established. No one would dare substitute in blatantly non-Christian material and expect to get away with it.
Today, it seems like the norm.
Anything can be wrapped under the banner of “spiritual”. It’s a self-interpreted word that can be anything you want it to be. If you claim this book is about finding “your best life” – Bingo! put it in the Spiritual Growth category and that’s a done deal.
A large percentage of these books speak about finding happiness. It seems to have become the great goal (doesn’t God just want you to be happy?).
I hate to break it to you, but your happiness isn’t really on God’s agenda. He’d like to see you holy, godly, conformed to the image of His Son, thankful, obedient, faithful, filled with the Holy Spirit, producing the fruit of the spirit even humble.
Oh, and all these might produce joy inside of you. But that’s not the same as “being happy.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 100 times again. Satan is alive and active and one of his best tricks is to sell counterfeits.
If he can convince people that self improvement and finding their happiness to live their best life is “good enough”, then he doesn’t have to worry about the gospel changing lives. It’s trading the gospel for second rate knock-off that has no lasting eternal spiritual value.
And I”m worried that this onslaught of false spirituality is having a dastardly effect on the Christian community. Rather than doing the hard work of discipleship, these books (and the philosophies behind them) offer a shortcut to enlightenment.
They don’t actually deliver, mind you, but they sure sound good to the unprepared ear. And over time, those ideas begin to blend with the pure faith, and cause a disgusting blend of truth and lies that does nothing but lead people astray.
How can you fight against this?
I recommend a continuous diet of the truth.
Only if you immerse yourself in the truth will you be able to recognize the lies when they come masquerading as a “really cool new idea…”
Honestly, there is no other way.
So what can you do?
Read your Bible. That’s always a good recommendation. Pay special attentions to Paul’s letters to the churches in the New Testament. He’s always going on and on about needing to keep to the salvation they received when he came to them. That was the true gospel. But now that he’s gone, wolves in sheep’s clothing have come to lead the churches astray.
The Bible is the pure stuff. You need it, because you can’t get the words of truth anywhere else. Last month I talked about getting into the Bible a lot. It’s true I stand by it.
Then you can always look at books that talk about the truth of the Bible. This may be the writings of a favorite pastor, or a classic book (personally I like many of the older books over the more recent books). Books that cause you to meditate on the truth of the Bible.
If you don’t work to stay pure, it’s an almost certain thing that you will drift into impurity.
So as you read this, I’m calling you to action. To DO something. Because the other option is to leave yourself open to counterfeit influences. Trust me, they are all around you.
Of all the books I’ve written, I think the one that reinforces the Bible the most is I Will Sing of My Redeemer. It’s a reflection on 52 great hymns of the faith. Over and over, those songs take us back to the cross and the love of God.
I was super happy this weekend when we sang How Great Thou Art in church. And not even a remix. Just the straight old hymn. We need those truths driven into our lives. And that song wastes no words proclaiming the greatness of our God.
When you gorge yourself on God’s truth, you’ll have no appetite for counterfeit “spirituality”. You’ll be full of joy, and won’t want to chase happiness. You’ll see your life being changed into one of holiness and discipleship. You won’t need “self improvement”. You won’t be searching for your best life… you’ll be living the life that pleases God.
So this is my encouragement for you this week. Do something to pursue the pure truth of God’s word. Close the door on the kinds of substitute messages that are all around you.
If you have a favorite classic Christian book that is well grounded in scripture, get it out and read it again. I’d love to know what you turn to (reply and share your go-to book).
If you don’t know what to do, pick up a copy of I Will Sing of My Redeemer. Read it and remember the great old hymns that lead you right back to the truth. Maybe even spend a day with one of those great oldies stuck in your head so that you keep repeating the words of truth over and over all day long.
I’ll have some more recommendations in the weeks ahead. Good books that will cause you to dwell on God, the gospel and godly living.