Four "Truths" Harming Christian Women (Part 2)Jun 13, 2022
“You already have everything you need.”
Well, that’s depressing!
If this is true, the future does not look bright. There’s still too much ignorance and immaturity in me to be encouraged by the idea “I have everything I need.”
But this mantra, broadcast to Christian women from pulpits to Pinterest, applied to everything from personal identity to marriage to parenting is as appealing as it is erroneous. What’s the magnetism of this message?
First, if you haven’t read last week’s post, I urge you to do so. Today is part two of addressing four “truths” harming Christian women, and it’s best to read last week’s post to place today’s remarks in the correct context.
Last week’s blog challenged two popular axioms: “You’re beautiful just as you are” and “Jesus can’t love you any more than he already does.” Today I address the final two. Other “truths” will circulate not only through society but the Christian subculture which will sound as appealing as a double-fudge chocolate-chip brownie topped with premium vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel sauce. Yet these will prove as disastrous as if the “chocolate chips” were mud bits and the sauce castor oil. My hope isn’t to only speak to these four messages but to highlight the importance of accurately teaching, understanding, sharing, and applying “Biblical” messages.
The implication of the idea, “You already have everything you need” is I only need to look within myself to find answers to all of life’s questions. The secular application of this concept ranges from mindfulness exercises to yoga classes to meditation practices to following one’s intuition. The spiritual application can include yoga and meditation but substitutes prayer for mindfulness exercises and following the Holy Spirit for following one’s intuition. I’m denigrating none of these practices. But if I engage in any or all of these with a faulty core premise, I increase the probability conclusions or direction will be off.
Believing in God doesn't automatically equip me with all the strength, skill, or wisdom needed.
If only that were true! How wonderful it would be, upon confession leading to salvation, that a renovation of the body, mind, emotions, will, and spirit immediately occurred. It would be like buying a fixer-upper and, at closing, the carpets became gleaming hardwoods, the countertops beautifully veined granite, and the bathroom shower a luxurious spa.
Instead, becoming a possessor of the front door keys entitles me to get to work
God has everything I need, not me.
Philippians 2:12 tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This life of redemption is an ongoing process of restoration which will never be finished until we step into Act II. Otherwise known as “heaven.”
God has established the order of all things which includes the truth we are insufficient in ourselves. Now, at this point, the standard response is “Yes! But we are in sufficient in Christ!” Well, yes, and no. It depends on what we mean by that in application.
If we interpret this to imply the only needed conversations include “me and Jesus -- and coffee or tacos or whatever else is the food of choice” – we’ll eventually fall. The counterweight truth -- he reveals himself to us through others, common sense, creation, and Scripture -- must anchor the other side.
By design, we are interdependent, not independent beings. None of us get the fullness of God on earth. We “see through a glass darkly” and need others to show us the God they see through the piece of the glass they’re positioned to view. It’s like a child at the zoo whose 30” height only allow them to see the elephant’s legs. They need to be hoisted up on Papa’s shoulders to view the entire mammal.
Spending time in prayer and reading the Scriptures for yourself is crucial. God does lead, strengthen, and provide wisdom through these practices. He also instructs and encourages through conversations with friends, appointments with therapists, reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts and music, and feedback from family members.
It’s easy to read the story of Elijah’s encounter with an angel discharged on a personal-chef assignment and think of this experience as the height of spiritual maturity. (See I Kings 19 for the full story.) But this was the exception, not the rule. After he left the mountain with his extraordinary God-encounter, guess what? God didn’t assign an angel to be his full-time companion, but a farmer. God was preparing Elisha to become the next major prophet, but perhaps he was also providing Elijah a friend.
If that’s a bit of a stretch for you, look at Jesus. When he was calling for his friends to “pray and watch” with him in Gethsemane, he needed them! He was in real, literal, nothing-fake-about-it, agony. If Jesus asked for friends to show up during his worst time, just think about what we need.
Proverbs is essentially the message, “Get smart!”
It’s not enough to “get saved” to live wisely.
Learning is a life-long endeavor, not a place we reach. Throughout Scripture, God employs active language related to wisdom. Seek. Search. Ask. Repeat.
God has all I need; I don’t.
It’s not that he’s hiding it behind his back, teasing us to “Come and get it.” Rather, he’s designed us to be people of activity. Of initiative. Of purpose. Requiring us to be intentional to pursue wisdom and build strength isn’t punishment anymore than asking a toddler to walk is mean-spirited. Sure, there are times you carry an exhausted two-year-old, but not everywhere, every time. To do so would incapacitate your child’s opportunity for a full life. God treats us the same way: carrying us through especially tough times but asking us to walk through most of life, relying on Him —as manifested through Scripture, others, and the Holy Spirit, to give us what we need.
“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too much or not enough.”
I like criticism as much as you. Not. At. All. It only took twelve years of marriage before I had the courage (consideration?) to ask my husband, “Tell me what it’s like to do life with me.” Gulp. Take your time. No hurry to respond. How about another twelve years?
This isn’t about condemnation. Pushing ourselves to “do more,” “be more,” “want less,” or “ask for less” to get more of God’s attention or approval. Or anyone else’s. Rather, it’s about aligning ourselves with truth so we can experience more of Jesus’ love for us, receive from others, and give to others.
We can talk too much. Listen too little. React too quickly. Act too slowly. We can expect too much and drive people away. We can give too little and leave people disappointed.
It’s true that my identity isn’t the sum of my actions. It’s also true my identity doesn’t stand entirely independent of them!
It’s right to refuse to allow a person to repeatedly attack our core being, as in, “You’re stupid.” “You’re nothing but a loser.” “You’re impossible.” It’s not right to reject hearing about our failures and flaws, what I label growth-gaps. Maturity isn’t threatened by truth. Health, not the absence of bad news, is a prerequisite to long-term peace and joy. It’s not the taste of medicine which measures its efficacy; it’s the outcome.
Christ is enough. He alone is never “too much” or “not enough.” Yes, Christ’s spirit indwells every Christian, but no Christian is Christ – only in the process of being remade into the fullness of Christ. Every day I have the choice to invite him to make progress on the good work he’s doing in me and be open to how he chooses to do that work – which might include listening to someone tell me I’m “too much” or “not enough” in some facet of life and definitely includes knowing I don’t have everything I need; only He does.
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©Stephanie D. Smith, 2022
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