"What we need is not so much personal development, as personal replacement: What we need is not so much personal development, but personal substitution." - Dwight Edwards
The invitation of the Gospel is, "Let Me carry you."
The relief of the Gospel is, "Will you let Me?"
What I don't mean:
By "personal development," I do not mean something like the mastery of a sport or an instrument. [Though it's never a solo performance - It's always a duet.]
Rather, I mean the addiction that humans have to mastering their own character, keeping the commandments, constraining their sin, and living like Christ without the supernatural resources only God can give. It's the attempt to live under natural power when only super-natural power will suffice. Personal development is the attempt to live under a manufactured righteouness rather than a borrowed righteousness.
Continue the way you began:
We needed someone to take our place, not only on the Cross; but even still - On Monday at 3 p.m. when our boss has called us in for employee evaluations; or when we've blown it with our spouse and our spouse was right; or when our valiant effort to resist our addictions has left us deeper in the hole.
A life driven by personal development sounds like this:
I will be disciplined enough.
I will manage your impression of me.
I will try harder.
I will trust enough.
The tender Giant:
By contrast, a life depending upon a personal, indwelling Substitute looks like this:
The experience of God breaking into human life is the experience of an invasion from beyond of Another; who in gentle power breaks in upon our littleness, and in tender expansiveness makes room for Himself.
Had we thought Him an intruder, no. God's first odor is sweetness; God's touch, an imparting of power. Suddenly, a tender Giant walks by our side ... no... strides within our puny footsteps. We are no longer our little selves. - Thomas Kelly
The Christian believes in substitutionary sanctification, not simply substitutionary justification. In other words, what began as grace continues as grace, because true discipleship is about allowing Jesus to trigger and release our new nature, not about our white-knuckled efforts to live up to our best intentions.
What's the fruit?
The fruit of personal development [avoiding supernatural resources] is shame. The fruit of personal subtitution is restoration.
We are no longer our little selves: The Giant strides within our puny footsteps.
- Audio - "The Saving Life of Christ," [Dwight Edwards]
- Podcast - Revolution Within-part one. Revolution Within-part two. [Jim Robbins and Dwight Edwards]