Psychology and Faith
People fascinate me. I enjoy learning why people do what they do and that is why I got a masters degree in Psychology. Psychology, the study of human behavior, offers many interesting theories and paradigms to people’s behavior so they can predict behavior as well as alter it. However, where it fails is to truly change people.
The world pushes us to become our own gods. We create our destinies, shape our futures, determine the outcomes, overcome our weaknesses, fix our problems, and are in control. We are who we are because of our decisions, our choices, our strengths, and so on. Therefore, become better, stronger, and smarter is the message of today. And with this philosophy, psychological frameworks have become a major force in helping us get there.
However, this philosophy is a lie. It is an endless run on the hamster wheel going no where. Having studied it in depth, psychology with all its answers and solutions is not the answer. It can tell us something is wrong, it can help us understand why we did what we did as mere men 1 Corinthians 3:3, but it is not the solution.
We are the problem. The problem can’t fix itself. All psychology and worldly wisdom can offer is band aids to the problems which weary us. They offer temporary moments of hope followed by despair.
The only answer is God, our Creator.
For the first 30 years of my life I acted like the creator taking on the philosophy of the world trying to shape myself into who I wanted to be. My goal was to move as far away as possible from the weak, pathetic, and broken person who caused so much pain and destruction. And these psychological philosophies promised the change I was looking for. But all they did was lead me further down a path of bondage and spiritual death. Sure there were moments I thought I was going somewhere, but when I stepped back, the things that really mattered got worse because I got worse.
A mind not taken captive by God’s word is a mind captive to death. 1 John 5:19
After all my efforts, nothing changed for the better. I was broken and need of someone much bigger to recreate me. In addition, I carried a tremendous burden because the repair work was all up to me, someone who in the stillness of my mind I knew didn’t have the power or strength to make me who I wanted to be.
If you are a self-help junky you will always be. Like a drug, you constantly need more books, tapes, and seminars to keep the high going and to convince yourself that you have found the answer. We hang on to the hope that the next page, book, or insight will be the final fix.
The day I threw away every self-help book and self-improvement tape and put my life completely in the hands of God trusting His work in me and the power of His Word was the day my life truly started to change because the new spirit in me started to grow. I will be honest, it was very difficult. I wanted to hold on to at least some books. They had been my hope for so long, even if they were an empty hope, it was hope.
Trusting God alone is completely counter to this world’s philosophies but it is the only true solution as I have discovered. Throwing out those false securities and trusting only in God and the power of His Word was one of the best decisions I ever made. I let go of the flesh and embraced the new life born of Him in me. And that life lives by faith, trust in His Word alone, and has no confidence in the flesh. This new life holds the characterstics that we all desire. Before I was running in circles, but since the Word became my source of truth, wisdom and life I have done nothing but moved forward. And it is a great feeling. Finally!
But these improvement offerings are so enticing for what they promise, a better life, a better you and all you have to is step 1, 2, 3. Its so easy!! But it doesn’t work. Not really. Not in the way we are seeking. It doesn’t bring what we all desire in life – unshakable value, meaning, purpose, satisfaction, peace, love, happiness and joy.
But the pull on us is like a tractor trailer. This past week a friend asked if I wanted to go to a class basically about being a better you. As I was getting lured in, I felt a hesitation in my spirit. Why are you going down that road again? You have travelled both paths and you know the only path to life is to completely trust God in this area. It was leaving that all behind when you started to find what you truly desired. What are you thinking?
You are right! What was I thinking? The wisdom of the world is foolishness. Many of the things this class promised were things that I strove to achieve and create in my life for years – purpose, meaning, right thoughts, and a better life. For the first time, these past couple of years all these have become a part of me and it is because all I did was abide in your Word and trust your work in me, not me. When I finally found the right path why would I want to stop and change direction? Thanks from keeping me from walking down that path again.
With this new year upon us, as we set high aspirations to become better and stronger all for God’s glory of course – let’s not forget how we are called to walk – in His wisdom not the world’s. And His wisdom says trust His work in you, abide in His Word, His truth sets you free, He works in your weaknesses, He is your healer, deliverer, power, and strength. He is the answer not the world’s psychology and wisdom. And the best part is He produces real lasting results and because it is His works and not yours He carries the burden. Our part; trust, rest and abide.
Here is the choice; work, strive and push for no true results, or trust, rest and abide for real lasting results?
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.