Friday, November 2, 2007

Self-Centered Christianity?

I first came across this quote in a John Piper book, but you can check out the source of it here.

I suddenly saw that … someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity, and yet the center was fundamentally the self, my need of salvation. And God is auxiliary to that... I also saw that quite a lot of evangelical Christianity can easily slip, can become centered in me and my need of salvation, and not … in the glory of God.
-- Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, Missionary to India
I'm interested in any feedback on this comment.


Bud said...

I think anything we do can be turned into a self centered thing, whether its the right thing or wrong thing is the question that remains. If it makes me feel good to do something for someone, am I wrong because I'm doing it to make myself feel good? We certainly have a need, and desire, for salvation so if I'm serving God because I want salvation does that make me wrong? "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth" (it's in the psalms I think.) I believe God will be exalted irregardless. I also remember when the disciples ran to Jesus saying this guy was doing things in your name and we rebuked him because he wasn't one of them, and Jesus told them that people who were not aginst him were for him (somewhere in the new testament). Jesus served the needs of the people; when they were hungry he fed them, when they were sick he healed them, when they were thirsty, he offerd them wells that wont go dry and cups that overflow, things that benefit them. I think it was only a few who got a real grasp of the big picture and were able to serve God with a nonselfish intent. When the people cried out to God in captivity it wasn't out of desire to have God in their lives, it was because they were in bondage and God saved them. There is a real danger in serving God in a manipulative way, i.e. the Pharisees. Bottom line of my beliefs though is that God is a judger of hearts and only he knows why we do what we do. Do I agree that the need for salvation can be centered in me and not the glory of God? I do believe it can. Does that make it right or wrong? I'm glad God has to make that decision and not me! and thats the Gospel according to BUD

David said...

Well Bud, you asked me to comment on your comment. So here goes.

You said, "God is a judger of hearts and only he knows why we do what we do." I think I might have to disagree with that philosophy. I agree, sometimes we don't realize our motives are selfish. However, we can purposefully do things with unselfish motives, or else God would not have said in his word to "Do nothing from selfishness..." (Phil. 2:3). How can we do nothing from selfishness unless we know we are doing it from selfishness? God couldn't have said this unless He knows that we CAN do things with unselfish motives.

Thus, in answer to one of your previous questions, "If it makes me feel good to do something for someone, am I wrong because I'm doing it to make myself feel good?", it seems Paul answers that question with the statement above.

And pertaining to another part of your comments where you conclude, "I believe God will be exalted irregardless," my thought is: just because God is resourceful enough to glorify Himself through my selfishly motivated action, I still have an obligation to "do nothing from selfishness."

And referring to Newbigin's quote, when the focus on salvation message is primarily self, it seems we are in danger of redirecting man's outward action without taking his god (i.e., "self") off the throne of his heart. Jesus said what we must do to inherit eternal life is: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:25-28). I fear in the recent past, the western gospel has told people they could be saved without doing this.

Bud said...

I certainly didn't mean that I didn't know the motovies of my heart, To be more exact on what I meant is that I do not know the motives of your heart, or my neighbors heart, or my wifes heart, etc... Only they and God know. God said an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth (if you want exact "where it is in the Bible" it will take me forever to find everything) and Jesus said forgive and turn the other cheek. So did he contradict himself or was he saying that for the sake of others, yourself, and the kingdom of God turn the other cheek. Am I a sinner if I do not turn the other cheek and take an eye for an eye? Or is Jesus saying it is better to turn the other cheek That I will be forgiven as I forgive others. could this be a suggestion by Jesus to show people Gods love and forgiving nature and a formula to make our judjement go eaiser on us? Could the writer of philipians be giving us a formula also that is set for the example of the way God intended things to be and a way that our lives. Later on i philipians:2 it's stated that Jesus was exaulted above all because he humbled himself even to the cross. (php 2:8-11)I would think Paul is giving us a guide line to live life by to accomplish two tasks: Show the world what God is like and to further our favor with God. I also think the selfishness Paul is talking about here is one that was harbored by the pharosees (how do you get a spell checker on this thing. My wife is not here to correct my spelling so feel free to correct it before it gets posted, If it gets posted).a selfishness that actualy presents ones self as God. If we are following God, or seeking God, seeking salvation, however you want to put it, because we want the end resault, Heven / Salvation, I'm not convinced that is wrong. When we minupilate people with our message of salvation for selfish gain I think probly we are in danger of Hell Fire.

As far as the love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus also said obey these to commandments and all the rest fall into these. He was telling the lawer to follow the commandments that God gave.We cant do that, thats why Jesus came. I do believe we need to do that above all( I dont think you can read the Bible and not find that about anywhere), but I'm not convinced there is a conflict between doing that and seeking salvation for the end means.Jonah did Gods will because it was better than the alternative. The deciples did it out of love for Christ and understanding of God. The difference is that the deciples hard times were bearable because of the understanding of God and a desire to "reach the goal". Certainly seeking salvation for Gods purposes instead of our own carries a different outlook on life.

Honestly I probly stand somewhere in the middle on the whole subject. I'm just starting over the last year to get a grasp on the magnitude and abilities of God. Note I said JUST STARTING.

As far as our western gospel. How could you pick one. Paul( in Php 2) talking about not being selfish I think might be to avoid what we have today in our "religons". Extremes and judgementals. My advice to anyone reading this would be to read the Bible and ask God himself. He will answer in time. and thats the gospel according to BUD (not the gospel itself)

Sorry for the spelling

Shiela said...

I believe that it all comes down to 1Corithians 13, we can do all these things through Christ, but if it isn't done with love than we are basically doing for selfish reasons. Even our salvation comes first from the knowledge that we need to be in right standing with God and then it goes from there to an absolute love of God. Desiring to have fellowship with God and letting others know of God's goodness because we aren't able to keep it all to ourselves.

Anonymous said...

God's grace and mercy...I fall on it. The blood WAS and IS enough. God's love is so great and His desire for us too much to fathom. He works all for the good, yes, even our sometimes selfish motives, to accomplish His will and purposes. I truly do weary of being reminded of how we fall short and grieve God. I am more motivated and encouraged by hearing and reading what HE did and does. When I am convicted by the Spirit, I am truly grieved , however it makes me appreciate all the more, what was accomplished on the cross for a wretched one like I.

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