The False Gospel of Self-Fulfillment
Most Americans pursue self-fulfillment and expect others to do likewise. Chances are that doesn’t surprise you at all.
It’s true for the majority of U.S. adults as well as those who attend a religious service at least once a month, who say their faith is very important in their lives, and who self-identify as Christians. How do American adults and most practicing Christians chase after self-fulfillment?
Most try to find themselves by looking within themselves instead of in the mirror of God’s word. They don’t criticize others’ life choices because they don’t want others to criticize their choices.
They pursue the things they desire most. They maximize their own enjoyment. They let other people believe what they want as long as they don’t hurt others. In addition, most adults (but not most practicing Christians) believe any kind of sexual expression is okay between consenting adults.1
As so often is true in human life, their beliefs are wrong because their assumptions about life are wrong. They discard God, the cornerstone of life, and the whole building of life collapses. They invent their own truth while ignoring the One who is the truth and the key to understanding reality.
Most Americans pursue self-fulfillment and allow others to do the same. Self-fulfillment is an American idol with far more devoted followers than God has. No wonder the Christian church in America is circling the drain.
Many professing Christians have adopted the creed of those who live in darkness. Me first! They get life exactly wrong. It’s like scoring a 0 on a hundred-question true-false test or driving south from Atlanta, Georgia, to go to Montreal.
What’s wrong with the gospel of self-fulfillment? Jesus explains it as paying attention to human concerns instead of God’s concerns. Notice the consequences of living a self-centered life in a God-centered universe.
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:23–26, NIV).
Denying ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples is the exact opposite of self-fulfillment. If we live for ourselves, we forfeit our souls.
Not only that, but we also discover that self-fulfillment is fool’s gold. It can’t and doesn’t satisfy us. Like potato chips with no salt, life apart from God’s purpose is perpetually tasteless and unfulfilling.
1. The End of Absolutes: America's New Moral Code - Barna Group
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Photo: The Marks of a Disciple of Jesus - Luke 9:23 - A Clay Jar