Christianity As Therapy

Have we lost the focus in our Christianity today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christianity. What’s it about? Well let’s look at the name. In it, we see the name “Christ”, so that could perhaps tell us that Christianity is about Christ, but there are too many times you can go to a church service or listen to Christian music and very little of it is about Jesus. Most of our sermons have turned immediately to application and much of our music is not really to enter us into the throne room of God, but rather to get us feeling good about ourselves. In fact, we could even say that some songs that are being sung on Christian stations today are explicitly being sung to the audience instead of to God.

Now of course, this is not to say that application in sermons is unimportant. Every good sermon should have application, but that application should come after telling us what the text means, what it tells us about God and what it tells us about Jesus, and what it meant to the people back then, and then we see how it applies to ourselves. It’s fine to have songs to remind us of who we are in Christ, but we should always have it that the song is mainly about Jesus and our reply can only be awe, but too often, our Christianity has turned into therapy. Instead of equipping us for war, we are being told to feel good about ourselves, as if that is the goal of the Christian life and if we don’t feel good about ourselves, then there’s something wrong.

Good Christian. If you are walking in the path well, there will be many times you feel miserable about yourself and that’s a good thing. You will feel miserable because you know you serve a holy God and you fall short. In fact, it is only by the feeling miserable part that you can come to appreciate the good part. We can often have two extremes. We can seek to have an emotional high with no connection to reality other than that we are supposed to feel this way as good Christians supposedly, or we can have a part where we tear ourselves to shreds regularly and feel miserable while forgetting that the word “Gospel” refers to good news. Christianity should be news that gives us hope. We thus either live in la la land unaware of the pains of the world and acting as if they should be foreign, or we live in the pains and just say “Well someday I will be in Heaven but I must trudge through Hell for now.” Neither of these are Biblical.

Of course, in all of this, I want to be clear that I am not disparaging therapy. Therapy is essential for many Christians, and there are reasons to have therapy. It could be because of a valid mental or psychological condition. It could be because of a trauma one has gone through. It could be because of an addiction one is struggling with. It could be for advice on dealing with someone else, such as a loved one, having such a problem. All of these are valid and thank God we have therapists who can help, but the goal of therapy should not be to help us to feel good about ourselves, though that does not mean it is bad if that happens, but the goal of therapy should be that we are to be holy.

And isn’t that what we’ve lost so much of? We’ve lost holiness. We have forgotten that Christ in our lives and the work of the Holy Spirit is to make us more like Jesus. It’s not just to make us mentally or psychologically fit. We are to be holy and that holiness means that we are to die to ourselves every day. I suspect much of the problem in our psychology is really that we don’t think about sin as much any more. We ask God to take away wrong desires, but we don’t ask God to make us holy. We don’t strive for holiness. We want God to allow us to stay in our comfort zone. If you want to be holy, you are going to have to be uncomfortable because holiness is not the natural state of fallen man and God will have to do some serious renovations on you to get you to be holy.

When we take this approach, we also lose the grandeur of God. We get so caught up in ourselves and our feelings and our world and what we’re going through that everything else seems distant. I’d like to say that I’m immune to this, but I know I am not. With my personality, empathy is very hard for me. My wife is the one who constantly has to remind me when we pray about the other people on our list and I have no doubt that her heart beats more for them than my does. My struggles seem larger than life, but everyone else’s just so often don’t really matter. So yes, what I say to you I also say to myself. I often wonder why it is that I don’t think about God as much as I do? Again, my wife puts me to shame in this area as if she thinks God seems absent to her, it absolutely kills her and she hates the loneliness. At the same time, we must always remember we are to seek God not to feel good about ourselves, but because we know that He is good in Himself and we owe everything to Him.

The worldview that we follow is Christianity. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about Him. Are we applying the proper focus today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters