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E-Mails to the Editor: It's Not About Me
By : Harold Hayward (North Turramurra, NSW)
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When Peter revealed his understanding of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi he said only: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Peter still had much to learn, but this was an enormous step of faith. It was also the basis of the confession of faith that many of us made when we started our own faith journeys. But for many years we have chosen to have believers also affirm their acceptance of Jesus as their “own personal saviour”. In bygone days this confessional addition - introduced possibly to ensure that a faith commitment was more than intellectual assent to a credal proposition - seemed helpful.

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Comments / Feedback
alan richard hermann
Harold what a refreshing and timely article. As I look at the best seller lists in Christian bookshops we seem to be drowning in a sea of christian narcissism. The theme of so many such books seems to be that it is all about 'me' rather than all about 'God'. Knowing that I will be drowned under a tidal wave of protest along the lines of ,'it helped me so much' and so putting myself in the fold of unfeeling people who should never be in ministry let me name 'Captivating' as a leading example of this problem. Let me join you on the wall Harold as they begin to take aim. Thanks again for a timely article.
Tom Glynn
Thanks Harold for your ionsight. David Milliken has been a great gift to the Australian church with his books and media comments on cults. Praise God there are more and more christians looking for depth and wishing to grow. This may see more folk moving out of churches that offer a superficial, materialistic "cheap Grace".
The down side is many drop out of church -become part of the Christian Ulumni-I read the largest group of Christians. How do we attract these folk back to a church where an authentic, mature, deep faith can be experienced?
Tanya Mrsic
Thanks Harold for your article. I agree with Alan that it is a very timely article. Even though narcissism will always be a problem in the human heart, we need to be aware that the social acceptance of narcissistic thoughts and actions in today’s society are not only acceptable but expected. This has profoundly affected the way we walk out our Christian faith and the way we present Christianity to the world. It shouldn’t of course, but we need to acknowledge that it does.

However, I believe our faith is personal. We no longer stand before God blessed or cursed as a nation, as Israel was in the Old Testament, but we are drawn to God’s grace by His Holy Spirit in a very intimate and personal way, and we will stand before Him individually to give an account one day. I also believe that God wants to bless us and heal us in our lives today, and we see this in Jesus’ ministry. He didn’t just forgive people, He healed them. It is often when people are the most broken that they turn to God and give their lives to Jesus, and I believe that God wants to heal those broken people. Sure, healing can come instantaneously and supernaturally straight from God, but usually it’s a journey, and perhaps, God uses Christian authors in addition to prayer, pastoral care, counselling and courses ministries etc to facilitate some of that healing. Surely we want Christians that are on the journey to healing and wholeness sharing their faith with the world, rather than broken people just hanging on to life by their fingernails in hope of heaven. Yes, engorging oneself with book after book after book, blindly trying to find healing is far from having our thirst fully satisfied by the living water that Jesus offers. But as humans we can get addicted to anything, including things that are good and have value. If we are going to knock these sorts of Christian books because of that, we should be criticising prayer because some people just keep coming forward for prayer and never seem to get healed, what about pastoral care, with those ‘extra grace required’ people who are always calling on the phone and can never seem to get their act together.

But I think your article, Harold, highlights the fact that as Christians we are called to serve others and to sacrifice our lives like the ‘wounded healer’, as we walk our own personal journey of healing. God calls us to crucify our self, our needs and to put Him and other before our needs, and the cost of discipleship absolutely needs to be highlighted to seekers. But, we need a balance of the personal side of our faith with the call to serve a desperate world, rather than emphasising either a ‘soft’ or indeed an ungracious version of the Gospel. I agree with you that we need to guard against spirituality that seems to just exist for the experience sake, but we can’t forget that God does want us to experience Him, but that should lead to a deepening of our faith in Him. Society today is becoming infatuated with spirituality, more specifically the experience of spirituality, as people take a bit from here and a bit from there, and construct a spiritual experience to their own liking. As we endeavour to share God’s love with this generation, we need to be extremely careful not to take the easy road and take advantage of this spiritual gluttony, but to continue to faithfully share the full gospel message which includes both the cost and the blessing that can be found in discipleship.

Tanya Mrsic
Bob Garbett
good article, the real gospel has been decimated by this 'me centred' message, thank God for authors such as Dallas Willard , Ron Sider, N T Wright who have brought a sense of reality back to the real gospel, this concept of a personal saviour if taken to an extreme can be a little sickening, this same sort of theology has a very romantized view of all things spiritual.

In the states one of the new fads is where women are encouraged to take 'Jesus out on a date'.

I think modernity with its propensity to view things as 'absolutes' has had some influence in this sort of thinking.

Regards Bob

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