Trading Believe-In-Yourself Religion for Christ-Centered Christianity
May 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2307-8
Is trying to be “the best you” actually ruining you?
From “living your best life” to “self-actualizing,” “finding your destiny,” and “waiting on the best to come,” the contemporary messages of the world exhort us to believe that we are promised and entitled the biggest and best life can possibly offer. But is that actually what Jesus promises? Is that even close to the message of the gospel?
Getting Over Yourself is a call for Christians to reject these hollow messages of personal prosperity and to return to the humble truths of the gospel. You’ll learn how to identify this insidious, popular theology in culture and churches and examine its devastating effects. And, perhaps most importantly, you’ll learn how to combat it with gospel truth that leads to the abundant life Jesus actually desires for His people. Discover the beauty in losing yourself—and ultimately in gaining Him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dean Inserra is a graduate of Liberty University and holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is pursuing a D. Min. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the founding pastor of City Church. He is passionate about reaching the city of Tallahassee with the Gospel, to see a worldwide impact made for Jesus. Dean is married to Krissie and they have two sons, Tommy and Ty, and one daughter, Sally Ashlyn. He likes baseball, wrestling, and the Miami Hurricanes. He believes Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback and that everyone who disagrees holds the right to be wrong.
Dean Inserra is one of the most down-to-earth pastors you will ever meet. He’s fun, precocious, and has an incisive wit. But Dean is also a deep thinker who speaks truth in his own unique voice. Getting Over Yourself is the most Dean Inserra title in the world, and it so perfectly captures what the gospel is calling Christians to do—to put others before ourselves and to put Christ above all. This book will encourage you to do that.
– Jimmy Scroggins
Lead Pastor, Family Church
I’m afraid a look into popular Christianity in America reveals teachings of a religion far from what the early church would have recognized. This Christianity worships a god who wants us to achieve worldly happiness, make our dreams prosper, and reach our fullest potential. We have largely set aside dated “prosperity gospel” preachers in fancy suits and gaudy television studio sets, yelling into a camera with a phone number to call at the bottom of the screen to receive a special blessing or prayer cloth. This kind of instant health-and-wealth teaching is now a fringe movement, more broadly mocked than followed. But in its place is a new prosperity gospel carried into the mainstream by trendy, attractive, compelling speakers.
This new teaching (which I call “pop-Christianity” or “new prosperity theology”) is not centered on overnight rags-to-riches stories or immediate physical healing, but rather on the idea that God is “in my corner” waiting to give me my “breakthrough.” The new prosperity gospel comes with the message of “God-sized dreams” and a “vision” that God has for your life, which includes finding your “destiny” and “reaching your true potential.” No longer is our depravity the actual tragedy. Now, the cardinal sin is failing to achieve “God’s best” for oneself. Instead of standing on the character of God, the focus is now to lay claim to “greater things,” because if God really loves us and if He’s as powerful as He claims to be, then “the best is yet to come.” It’s not difficult to see why it is so appealing!
There’s truth to some of these platitudes, which is why we have to be careful. And that’s what makes them so dangerous. If we’re not careful, we can turn legitimate confidence in our victory in Christ into the idea that God wants us to walk in earthly victory as we define it for ourselves. It’s certainly true that God cares greatly about our well-being and wants to give us abundant life (John 10:10). But so often the way we perceive blessing and victory is not the same as the Bible’s definitions of blessing and victory. And the American church has largely fallen prey to the idea that God being “for our good” means God is for our worldly good.
From the first pages of Scripture, we see God’s people fail to live in light of God’s sovereignty and provision. In the book of Exodus, the recently rescued Israelites crave the comforts of captivity in Egypt over the hardships of freedom in the desert. New Testament churches had bouts with false teachers, and churches throughout the modern era have fallen into various traps as well. This one is our generation’s trap – a fully-fledged “me-focused” faith of which I’m afraid we haven’t even yet seen the long-term effects. And we shouldn’t be complacent. Throughout Scripture, God never applauds or excuses His people’s idolatry. He corrects it. Consistently. Painfully.
Pastor Ray Ortlund is quoted as saying, “Christianity shows us something profound. Moment by moment, we are either centered on God or we are centered on ourselves. There is no alternative.” To follow Jesus is to deny oneself (Matt. 16:24) rather than seek one’s personal elevation. The easiest litmus test I can think of for evaluating the competing messages heard in churches nationwide is this: Is the message promoting or rejecting a “for you” theology? While I certainly hope and believe that all orthodox theology is for us, in terms of receiving the truth of Scripture and its significance for our lives, the “for you” message is an unofficial theology that functions as if God’s reason for existence is…you.
Dean Inserra diagnoses a harmful but subtle trend in American Christianity where many pastors and churches have substituted a self-help hype machine baptized in Christian language for Jesus-centered discipleship. In so doing, Jesus becomes the means to your better life, not the end for whom you were created! Dean displays great bedside manner by not casting judgment, but rather showing loving concern that Christians do what we have always done since the cross and the empty tomb—get over ourselves and focus on Jesus.
– Jon Akin
Director of Young Leader Engagement, North American Mission Board
We live in an age where everyone is a brand and every experience is a potential marketing opportunity. Even and perhaps especially in the church. Too often Christians are tempted toward a fake gospel of soft prosperity, comfort, and self-affirmation. Dean Inserra understands that Jesus came to rescue us from the bondage of self, which is why this book is vital to put into the hands of every believer. This book carefully and surgically works through the layers of false gospels we so easily imbibe and leads us back toward a cross-centered, Christ-focused Christianity.
– Daniel Darling
Senior VP of Communications, NRB; bestselling author of several books, including The Characters of Christmas, A Way with Words, and The Dignity Revolution
Getting Over Yourself is a bold, gospel-driven, prophetic word for the American church. In reminding us of our sin and depravity, Dean reminds us of the true beauty of the gospel. The best news in the world isn’t that Jesus came to Earth, lived, died, and rose again to help me live a better life. No—the best news in the all the world is that Jesus came to Earth, lived, died, and rose again to rescue me from my sinful, self-obsessed lostness to set me free to live a new life for His glory. By pointing us to the fullness of the gospel, Dean exposes the second-rate “good news” of gospel-lite, prosperity Christianity.
– Mark Vance
Lead Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Ames, IA