A Generation That Yearns For Self Empowerment

A Generation That Yearns For Self Empowerment

Pastor Vincent - 13 March 2021

Weekend Devotion: A Generation That Yearns For Self Empowerment

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Nowadays, if you go to any bookstore, or visit websites that recommend books, you will find a wide array of books, and in fact the bestselling ones to be those that talks about self-empowerment.


As these books usually suggest, to make ourselves more wise, more loving, more resilient, more benevolent, and so on, they are usually the whole directives of its content.


Now, a secular world believes in its right and ability to self-empower. And it is no wonder such books in recent years, have disguised itself in the form of religion and make inroads into the church especially. It is therefore not hard to find Christian literature written with biblical principle to help believers self-improve. And books like these receive such a positive welcome into the Christian world. For instance: “When to say yes, and how to say no to take control of your life”; “Breaking free”; “The power of praying woman”; or even “Purpose driven life” just to name a few.


Now, how does these titles sound to you?


First, it is very subjective and very relevant, right? It speaks directly to people with those needs. For instance, for people who is in bondage, who lacks purpose, who feel weak as a woman.


And second, the choice of words in the title that are being used sounded so legitimate, at least in the Christian sense. E.g. “prayer, purpose, freedom”.


I mean I want to be very objective in my comments here. These books may strike the right note at times. It gives people some god-inspiring ways and applications, but on the whole the message is still about self-empowerment.


Just ask the question, “What draws people to read these books?” It’s not about an eternal God which they are interested in. It’s not about a savior, who redeems men of their sins, it’s about self-improvement!  These books are not introducing Christianity at its core, rather it’s about the byproducts of Christianity, i.e. what you can get out of believing Christ.  


Now, some people may think there is nothing wrong with self-improvement. It is after all a natural tendency. We all want to improve in the way we think, we feel, we plan, we talk, we do things. Yes, these are desirable, but they are byproducts of Christianity, not something we should pursue or direct our whole mind towards. In fact, when our pursuit is on Christ, as we know Him, we will know ourselves. And with that, improvement just happen.


But with these books, it didn’t bring you to the knowledge of God, but helping you to go right into dealing with unforgiveness, emptiness, scars, losing control in your life, or the struggle of not feeling like a man or woman… Yes, it talks about rejecting negative thoughts, rejecting the devil’s accusations or insinuations, but ultimately, it points the person back to self-empowerment, not love for Christ and devotion to Him.


Now, it’s very subtle as these things are infiltrating into the mind of modern believers. And Christians are not discerning, that going back to the self are in fact the traps of the evil one.


Now, look at one of the most subtle deception of the devil when the whole mankind fall. And this is the ultimate temptation that the serpent has presented to the woman.


For the serpent says,


“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” <Ge 3:5>


Now, to be like God is the ultimate temptation for every created being. Because the underlying seduction is that we want to be totally sovereign, to be able to be what we want to be, and do what we want to do.


Yet man, the image bearer of God is NOT to be like God in his inherent qualities.


We are not to know everything like Him, not to be all powerful like Him, not to be totally sovereign like him, we can never be. Rather, the image bearer of God is to emulate God. And the way to emulate him is to put our whole trust and reliance on Him, so that with all his goodness filled us, we could humbly think like him, love like him, speak like him and do everything like him. And that will be our most glorious and joyful state.


Now, the problem with these self-empowering books is that they got the main focus wrong.


Instead of looking to Christ, to know Him and emulate Him as the ultimate objective, they are trapped with the discontentment of not being able to realize their potential. They struggle with emptiness, despair, and all sorts of scars in their lives. So they wish to be liberated. They want God to help them through these problems, to help them feel empowered, and live their best life on earth, so to speak.


Yet, in all my years of evangelical and pastoral work, I realized that when people come to God for some reasons other than God Himself, will eventually leave for that same reasons, which they felt has not been resolved.


So the problem with these self-empowering books, written in the name of Christianity, using bible verses to validate their claims, in my opinion, could be bringing the gospel too far from its truth.


Yes, it might have attracted large crowds, it might provoke and stirred up hearts, but it has also cause great misunderstanding of the gospel.


Now, if there is a book which I will really want to read about Christianity. It is a book that simply tells me two things. i.e. who God is, and who I am.


Knowing Him to be the all righteous, all loving and all powerful one. And to that end, knowing how sinful, how vile and how depraved I am. And when that has produced a conviction of sin, and a thorough humility in my heart, I will be pointed to the truth of God, and the truth of God will set me free. That in itself is different from, what I see as exploiting the truth to further my agenda of self-improvement.


So with that, I like to encourage all of us, as a generation of people to be very selective about the kind of books that we are reading. Be discerning to the contents and messages that you are taking in. Understand the spirit within, especially Christian literature. Is it directing you to subordination to Christ, or simply pointing you to self-empowerment? Deception can be subtle, and it is best at syncretizing the truths and falsehood together. But with pure truths, it needs to go through careful screening.


As <1 Pe 2:2> says: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.

Pastor Vincent Choo

Vincent is the Senior Pastor of The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) and is an ardent missionary to the Chinese World. He currently lives in Singapore with his wife, Qiufen, and has three kids, Mary, David, and Caleb.

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