If I wanted to be sure of a good attendance I could do a lot worse than run a conference for Christians on self-fulfilment. We might even include a session on make-up and beauty care for Christian women. (Not being an expert on that area I’d probably need to delegate that session!!). I’m not joking. Such conferences do take place and they are popular.
Now I don’t profess to know everything about Scripture. But I fail to see any biblical justification for all this self-centred emphasis. In fact I don’t see self-fulfilment as a biblical concern at all. Peace and joy, yes – but that can be (and often is) in a situation of self-denial and suffering.
I firmly believe in the Church’s healing ministry – whether physical healing or emotional (inner) healing. I’ve seen God work miracles in these areas.
One of my churches had a prayer counselling department which, in addition to our own members, ministered to Christian leaders from far and wide. But the aim behind it was not self-fulfilment or primarily wholeness: it’s helping people to be better able to serve God sacrificially.
From a biblical point of view, it seems self-fulfilment is incidental. We are called not to fulfil self but to deny self. I think that some well-meaning Christians who rightly want to help people out of self-rejection, self-condemnation, and inferiority feelings are being deceived into thinking this is an end in itself.
So, although I believe in Christian counselling and inner I healing, I reckon that what many Christians need is not more of that, but a little more self-denial.
If they get on with sacrificial service to God and others – especially in terms of witnessing to non-Christians – I’m confident a lot of their problems would dissolve. It is in giving that we receive. But the motive is to give, not to receive.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction