All you who don’t believe in “God, The Creator with a plan for creation“, I challenge you to consider reading The Bible, The Scriptures as the original self-help, self-improvement guide, how-to book, and instruction manual. “Scripture” is a very interesting concept.
The root of scripture is Latin scribere meaning simply, “writings”. (Hence, words like scribe.) I don’t think it’s a stretch of logic to say that, during the dawn of time, only the most important stuff was written down. The “right” stuff. The most valuable information, in that it was the most important. The most useful and helpful. To the most people.
The definition of “scripture” (uncapitalized), is “any religious text”. Because what every religious belief was formed to do for a culture was pass down the wisdom and advice of generations – from thousands of years of best practices and recommendations (y’know “guidelines”).
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by God, and is useful for showing people what is wrong in their lives… for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live.
What I’m saying is that, even if you take out “God” and just say “all scripture”, the verse remains true. All you’d be doing is expressing a non-spiritual viewpoint on life, the universe, and everything. (That alone, IMHO, has to make the Good Book worth reading.)
If I may summarize The Bible down to one, short piece of advice, it is, “Love God (seek one’s creator, whatever you believe that to be), love other people as you love yourself (learn how to be “civilized”). These are foundational “rules” present in every society: an explanation of why and how we are here, and how to get along so that all may prosper. Because isn’t that what we all want?
I’m claiming that all “self-help” is merely a rephrasing of Biblical (or scriptural) truths. The fact that self-help still sells well (just google it or walk into any remaining bookstore), proves my point. People are still looking for answers to these most basic of questions. I say there’s Truth in them there words.
For example, on what can go wrong in an individual’s development:
“Our most difficult task is to defeat ‘social oppression’, the caging of our spirit and the stifling of our potential by others. We mean the moments when someone exercises judgement, authority, or power against us in a burdensome, cruel, manipulative, or unjust manner.”
Brendan Burchard, The Motivation Manifesto
This is a repackaging of Romans 12:2:
Don’t change yourselves to be like ‘the people of this world,’ (ERV)
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is good and acceptable and perfect. (NKJV)
By testing against what? The ‘sacred writings, the advice of generations,’ of course. Put God back in it:
…but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God (your Creator) wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (ERV)
“Some of us can remember dramatic times when we were mocked for being different or manipulated into conformity… We started acting like ‘them’ in school or the office.
“Social oppression is at work when the ways of others diminish who we are or stop us from pursuing our own goals.”
“Our own goals” is just another way of saying “what we were made for, created to do.” By whom? God, The Creator, of course. And, indeed, if we are not trying to discern and pursue our own goals,
“The aims of others… can become our aims if we are not vigilant.
“[We are all trying to grow and reach] levels of maturity and enlightenment that allow us to see we can be individually free but not entirely apart from our culture… that independence does not preclude interdependence… We learn that the more we are true to ourselves (Me: to who God made us to be), the more we can connect with and contribute to the world.”
“…our higher motive [higher calling]”
The incredible thing is, even if you do take God out of it (if you start looking for wisdom without faith, so to speak), personal study of these guidelines will lead you right to faith. A friend of mine uses the term “Spiritual Formation”. This is our finally realizing, understanding, and accepting that there is a Creator, a Higher Power, who has made us each for something, and that, all along, as we were growing up, we were actually just facing the choice of accepting our “lot”, or envying someone else’s. We might have become “slaves to opinion” which can lead to becoming slaves to addictions, to hurts, habits, and hangups, simply because we knew deep down what we had yielded and given up. The Bible also speaks of the “church” being a body, with each individual member have a necessarily different function, every one critical to the whole. Isn’t that what society is, too?
You might say, “isn’t there an element of conformity in adhering to exactly what Scriptures say? Isn’t that what ‘religion’ is?” That is precisely why we are advised by Scripture to spend time in Scripture daily:
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
The key – the most important lesson in our maturing, our reaching a point where we get past our ‘falling into lockstep with the world’, is our coming to awareness of and establishing a pattern of personal relationship with our Creator, most easily done by reading Scripture for ourselves.