Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Self-Help vs. PEACE . . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 27 October 2009

eace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”

~ John 14:27

When people seek
counseling they almost invariably come with two problems. First, they have the problem that has troubled them – probably for quite some time -- for which they want a solution.

But their second (often more pronounced) problem is the depressed, distressed, agitated attitude they have toward their problem: the frayed and burdened feelings they have about the problem that blocks their reasoning power and reduces them to a very narrow and rigid view of the problem.

A good counselor knows that there is no use trying to address the person’s initial problem until you first solve the obvious problem they present: Themselves!

They need to be taught how to have peace. If and when they can approach the initial problem with a sense of peace, the dilemma unravels itself.

Jesus said,
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~John 14:27

This peace that Jesus gives is what a good counselor might well describe as "the ability to cope."

Yet, sadly, one of the spirituality-coated social phenomena of our culture is the self-help movement, wherein peace with ourselves and our circumstances and our past and our future is found miraculously in human achievement. And way too often, when the self-help route takes too long, we resort to other measures like drugs -- prescription and otherwise.

The self-help movement preserves the notion that somewhere and somehow there are secret powers out there that when honed can -- and do -- develop hidden abilities to bring us into a new and higher level of life and experience and spirituality. . .
. . . and blah blah blah.

I will say this straight-up: As a Christian counselor, I very much dislike the whole self-help movement.

See, as long we remain in and of the world and apart from Jesus, we will never know the remarkable secret of HIS peace! Apart from Jesus, peace is just another humanistic pursuit. We spend valuable time and resources searching for and learning techniques and secrets and in the pursuit, are led farther and farther away from the real thing!

Peace is the bequest of Jesus to His followers – the inheritance of true Christians. Without HIM, we can only resort to self-help; and it is a pathetic substitution for the real thing.

Q: How does the world give peace?

A: The self-help movement is a given. And at the risk of being labeled judgmental and narrow-minded and other colorful things, (I've certainly already alienated the self-help crowd) I’m just going to say it: Prescription drugs.

We’re all familiar with the scenario: If/when we are altogether upset over something to the point of being unable to function normally – we probably visit our family doctor for help. It’s just the way we’ve learned to do things in our culture. We ask the doctor for help and he probably gives us some Zanax or Valium or Klonapin or Librium -- chemical peace!

But it wears off. And we’re right back where we were before we took the pill. We have to take more until our mind is dulled and we are half-sedated. This is how the world gives peace.

Oh! Absolutely there are situations where pharmaceuticals are warranted. There aren't too many Christian counselors that have a zero-tolerance policy toward prescription drugs. We do live in a fallen world. But understand: Pharmaceuticals are the WORLD's way to give peace. Not God's!

Consider God's Peace: Consider the serenity with which Jesus moves through all the striking events of his last week on this earth. Consider the moments He stood as a prisoner before Pilate and Herod and the chief priests and the angry mob.

Now consider the peace and serenity He possessed and realize fully what he says . . .
"My peace I give unto you."

In other words:
"The peace I possess, I want to give to YOU.

Jesus speaks here of what Paul calls "peace that passes understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Events do not affect it. Circumstances do not affect it. Our past does not affect it. Our uncertain future does not affect it. Trials and tribulations do not affect it. Other people do not affect it. Political upheaval does not effect it. Economic turmoil does not affect it. (Get the picture?)

Peace from Jesus is internal. It is not subject to anything external. It is not subject to any self-help formula. It is not contingent upon complimentary drug therapy. It is a peace that is entirely baffling to the world, but freely imparted to the true believer. It baffles the world because there is nothing scientific or medical or even "spiritual" (in the word's definition) to explain it.

The peace that "passes understanding" is ours because a part of the Triune God of the Universe dwells IN us. And that Spirit in us is able to handle and overcome every external problem in this world . . . . We have complete and TRUE PEACE.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~John 14:27

~ Esthermay V. Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

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This installment of InOtherWords is hosted by Patricia
on her blog, Typing One Handed.


MiPa said...

Great food for thought. Thanks for sharing. (And welcome back to IOW...missed you this summer).

Barbara said...

AMEN! Truly amazing to me how simple God's ways are and how complicated the world's ways are. Could not agree more with every word of this post.

Denise said...

Amen, amen. Thanks for sharing these wise, and truthful words.

Debbie said...

You've given me much to consider. I do believe Jesus is where I will find my peace. Circumstances in life change from season to season. Many things I find out of my control. This is an area where I've been struggling lately because of many situations that are changing my life. And I tend to prefer peace and security. But I agree with what you wrote. Wise words; thank you.

kalopoieo said...

Oh my, how you hit the nail on the proverbial head everytime you write! AMEN to the self help movement’s lack of anything remotely resembling peace. I agree with Barbara. It is an amazing thing how simple God’s Plan is when compared to the world’s sickly attempts. Yet the world would accuse you (and all who present Scriptural Truth) as being over-simplistic and judgmental of those who are following the way of destruction. Sad.

Once again, good writing Esthermay!

Denise Hughes said...

"Peace from Jesus is internal. It is not subject to anything external."
I am so grateful that nothing external can shake a solid foundation built on Christ. His peace is the only true peace. You are so right to identify the way the world tries to offer "peace." Peace in a bottle - prescribed or otherwise - is sinking sand. Thank for sharing such wise words today.

Kate said...

"spirituality-coated social phenomena of our culture is the self-help movement"
I LOVE this!!!
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your blog.
Thank you for your wisdom.

Joan said...

Amen and amen. Much truth here. And being labeled "judgmental and narrow-minded and other colorful things" is exactly what Jesus encountered with the pharisees. I struggle myself often with the option of saying nothing or saying Truth which almost always offends someone. I love your boldness.
Wise words you write. thank you

Patricia said...

Great message here. I agree with you so much about the cultural solution to problems. When our oldest was having some issues, the doctor prescribed an anti-depressant. Side-effects were worse than the depression. She broke a couple of teeth due to clenching in her sleep. Plus she had extremely vivid dreams including one in which she was assaulted and had to endure it as if it was really happening. She still shudders to think of it. She finally took herself off them. Said she refused to live her life medicated to be happy. She'd rather be miserable than drugged.

Welcome back. Thanks for posting today.

Tami Boesiger said...

Only Jesus brings real peace. Amen.

Kathy S. said...

Amen, I just began writing about my deliverance from the pit by "The One and Only" Savior.

It was a long journey with Him as my Wonderful Counselor, but He taught me so much on that journey and enables me to now encourage others...I think it is like an "experience-degree" in counseling... ;D

Joan Carr said...

Peace, genuine peace can and does only come from the Father above. Oh, that the world could understand the peace that a child of God can have in their heart when turmoil is all. But, only a child of God can understand the peace that only God can give.

I am reminded of the hymn by W,D, Cornell "Wonderful Peace".

Edie said...

I love this Estermay. I don't always rest in His peace as I should, but I can say that I have often enough that I strive for it. Thanks for a great message.

I have been thinking of you quite a bit lately but haven't had much chance to blog visit like I used to. I hope all is well.

Much love!

Susan said...

What an incredible word Esthermay. I've missed you!

I find what helps me restore my peace is being grateful for all I do have.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7)

I'm with you 100% on spiritual coating things and the whole SELF-help movement.

Anything that points to any direction other then Christ, is in gross error.

We are to DIE to self, not indulge it!

Sorry I hope I wasn't harsh or offended anyone~

Esthermay said...

We are to DIE to self, not indulge it!
Harsh?? Offensive??
Absolutely not! Biblical Truth is Biblical Truth. Christ was considered harsh and offensive by the Pharisees of His day too. . . .

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