Permit me to give a rant.
In the New Testament Jesus was always ripping the Pharisees. The primary reason He did so was that they were more interested in following the rules and looking good, rather than having their heart actually draw close to God. They followed the laws meticulously, and even made more laws to follow. All of this was so that they would be sure to look religious and avoid making God angry. Certainly they had good intentions, as they did not want to anger God. If they lived right, God may not necessarily bless them, but at least He would not have grounds to punish them.
Isn’t that the same with today’s Tips and Techniques theology? Hey, manage your money God’s way, and He will bless you. Don’t have sex outside of marriage, and you’ll avoid an STD and your marriage will last longer. Don’t do drugs (I always picture City Slickers when I hear that). The list goes on. Those are good things, and they are true. And they are only 1/2 of the story. The motivation of the Law, as well as tips and techniques, however, is for our lives to be comfortable, not meaningful. We’ll do our part, and God won’t let the boogey man get us.
This really tickles the ears of our Christian Consumer Culture. Tell me what will make my life better. Jesus never called us to that. He called us to make our lives matter.
Of course, following Jesus leads to a change in how we operate and behave. But what happens is that we offer tips and techniques as substitutes for truly following Christ. This is exactly the same as the Pharisees and the Law.
God calls us to orient our lives totally around Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean that we avoid all behavioral teachings and focus on experience. We’ve all been puzzled watching experiential religious services where people are strategically slapped in the forehead and immediately laid down for a siesta. That is more of the same – what I do makes God watch out for me.
Let’s get on with transformation, seeing people radically orient their lives around Jesus. What does Isaiah 61 really mean?