Self Love: A New Gospel

It has occurred to me that in a lost culture that largely doesn’t know where else to place its faith, self-love campaigns, inspirational memes, and the self-empowerment movements have become our new gospel.

I wake up in the morning and scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, which are littered with political commentary and hatefulness in a culture that claims to love. I suppose to reverse the effects of all this negativity, inspirational memes like these are created to spread positive vibes and cozy thoughts. I understand where these inspirational thoughts are coming from. And I would much prefer to see this positivity on my news feed than all the hateful and destructive things going on in the world. Understanding who you are and how to interact with life is important. But from a spiritual standpoint, in these inspirational memes, sneaks an underlying falsehood that is oh-so-well disguised. These inspirational ideas that our culture is coming up with are being cultivated from a ground that is human powered and self-focused. A ground that does not recognize the joy of God as a savior or a place to find solutions.

Take a look at these memes:

Self-Love

Self-love is a cushy thing. It makes us feel really good. As though all our lives we’ve been striving toward the things we know we need to do, but someone just put the brakes on and said, “Wait; you don’t need to worry about your obligations to people; just love and care for yourself and everything will go right for you,” thereby relieving us of our responsibilities to others and to our Creator. This constitutes a self-focused mindset of seclusion that only calls us to look inside ourselves for value and happiness. In a similar way, the self-empowerment mindset encourages ownership of our bodies, and feeds the idea that we are in control, rather than acknowledging God in us as our source of empowerment, wisdom, and even reason for existence.

The Christian Calling

I know at this point it may seem like I’m reading way too far into something that seems pretty harmless. But I see this as a stumbling block that could easily sneak in and infect a godly mind. It is important to dissect even the smallest of lies that the world tells us, and to recognize that as Christians, we are not called to be comfy-cozy, or indulgent like this. Christians are called to much more than prioritizing how good we feel. In fact, how good we feel should be one of the last things on our priority list in a Gospel story that calls us to set aside our emotions and worldly desires to do what the Lord has asked. These positivity memes, which attempt to reassure us so adamantly, are suggesting that we place our faith and love in ourselves rather than a higher being – God.

Yet has the Bible not called us multiple times to place our faith and value in Him alone? And what about putting others before ourselves, turning the other cheek, being a servant to the poor, and living a life of honor and selflessness?

Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. (Psalm 62:5); But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:39); For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13); Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:4)

Patching a Hole

It is also important to point out that finding consolation in the self-love, self-empowerment movement does not warrant a permanent fix. We were designed with a hole in us that is meant to be filled by a savior only. And when we look to other self-help or therapists to make us feel good, it is like putting water in a machine that requires gasoline. It is like putting tape over a busted pipe. Like quenching your thirst and hunger with soda and ice cream instead of water and meat. The fix will be makeshift. Improper. Unsatisfying. And will just lead to wanting more, in the exhausting quest to find fulfillment.

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14); And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:11)

Guarding Against Lies

Now, did I compose this post to rant about straightening out your spiritual priorities? No. I have no place to do that, because I am guilty of idolizing things that are not God on a daily basis. I do not claim to be perfect. But I do think it is important to raise awareness to my fellow Christian brothers and sisters that it is easy to fall in step with what the world tells us about how to love and what to value. Even with a strong spiritual background, it is hard to make out the lies against a worldly backdrop that is so convincingly disguised to look like positivity and truth.

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Keeping Our Gospel

And once again, it is okay to make decisions that are good for your life and think healthy thoughts about yourself. We just can’t make this whole “self-love” and “self-empowerment” idea our new gospel, by which to live, because it subtly though surely eliminates from our hearts and our minds the very important fact that we have a higher savior from whom we are to derive value and strength. We are not our own saviors. This is a truth that our self-love, pride, “feel yourself” culture often fails to accept, because it puts us out of the spotlight of our lives and does not allow us to feel fabulous.

So next time you come across one of these seemingly well-meaning inspirational passages that doesn’t involve Jesus, just check yourself. Think to yourself, “Is what this is saying really biblical?” The Holy Spirit will probably guide you in this discerning, like it did me. My advice would be to go with your spiritual instinct, and don’t be too quick to believe what the world is consistently trying to feed you. Let’s stick with our Gospel truth. Instead of living for and by ourselves and no one else, let us always try to live for and by Him and no one else.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

3 Comments

  1. Cynthia Calaway
    Jul 11, 2018

    I agree wholeheartedly with this!! I have thought the same things when reading all the so called inspirational messages that say it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Do what feels good to you that’s all that matters is how YOU feel.

  2. Mary Sutphin
    Jul 11, 2018

    Love your blog — you are wise beyond your years. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I’ve watched you grow up in Salem and in Kentucky (on facebook).
    Love & Hugs to you today!

  3. Whipple
    Jul 11, 2018

    Haley, I’m so glad to hear your thoughts on this. Self-love, self-care, and the like are strictly contrary to the Gospel. As heresies, they cross generations, but there does seem to be a renewed modern focus on them as ways of life. It is good to remember that “he who wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for [Christ] will find it.”

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