A church member whose initials are Addria Capps, gave me the gift of a new book by Kyle Idleman, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. I told her not to be surprised if I cited it very soon!
The title of the book is AHA: Awakening. Honesty. Action. I made it all the way through the first page before I had an AHA moment of my own.
Idleman was discussing all the self-help books that are on the market nowadays and I laughed right out loud!
OK, before I go any further, let’s peal back a few layers. For starters, the self-help book industry is now grossing annually $11,000,000,000. (That’s 11 billion if I counted my zeros correctly.)
This is according to New York magazine and there are forty-five thousand versions in print. I thought to myself, “Man, we are a broken bunch!”
I checked over my archives and I did a blog on August 15, 2015 concerning all those self-help books for Dummies on the market. Incidentally, one of them had to do with operating a Canon T3i/600D SLR camera; and, I didn’t even understand the first page.
So, do they have self-help books out there that are for those of us who are below the dummy classification? It looks like in some areas, I haven’t even made it up to the dummy level…yet!
Kyle Idleman was a wee bit tongue-in-cheek when he cited all those self-help books on the market. Apparently, they really are not doing the job!
Or…we’d all be perfect!
And, this brings me to what I really wanted to talk about this morning…Jesus. You saw this coming, didn’t you?
Back in the day, Jesus made a request to: his disciples; that mob of people that had gathered beneath him on that famed mountainside; plus all of us as well, which seems utterly impossible!
Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48 NIV, Sermon on the Mount).”
Well, hold the phone! I have just discussed a myriad of self-help books, none of which seem to really be moving us into the realm of perfection; and, there stands Jesus telling us to be as perfect as God!
Why in the universe would Jesus ask us to do something that is absolutely impossible to do? We need some self-help to figure it all out!
Thank goodness, I have my rusty, trusty Aramaic Text to lend a hand. In the language that Jesus was conversant, the Aramaic word for perfect is GMERA. (Pronounced guh-mera)
GMERA means finished, complete, whole, fully-grown, all-inclusive, comprehensive and accomplished. That’s quite a lot coming from such a tiny word!
To put a finer point in things, Jesus has just told the crowd, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:44-45 NIV).”
If we are whole, if we are fully-grown, fully mature, complete, all-in, thorough, accomplished, fully-vested, all-inclusive or any of those related words that describes this motif, we can gain a shadow of what Christ is calling us to become.
Does anyone else hear John Wesley whispering in an ear, “We’re moving on to perfection?” Shouldn’t this be our greatest ambition for 2018?
Yes, I know! We will still need some help to move along in our journey! If self could help, we’d have been out of our misery a long time ago.
But, here is the deal…it’s not about self-help! The real secret to life is that we are not left alone in the self-help category, struggling by our own devices to dig out of our self-made ditch!
We have Christ and him crucified! Well what in the world does that mean?
You and I matter so much to our Lord that he would just die for us. This kind of love will not leave us to our own devices.
The proper stance is that there is nothing I can do to truly help myself…other than move into GMERA. We simply inherited too much brokenness on the day that we were born to move out of it on our own.
So, for a new year’s resolution, there is something we can actually pull off. We can choose to be all-in and all-inclusive with regard to loving God and neighbor.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation hascome: The old has gone, the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).”
So, let’s all move on towards perfection!