Our local library has a section titled, "Self-Help." The average age in Sun City, AZ is in the mid 70's. What kind of self-help books do we read? Well, we read about aging well (whatever that means), how to invest wisely (should have done that a long time ago), how to lose weight (a little late for most of us), how to raise our grandchildren (now that's a popular topic because we can try to do with our grandchildren where we failed with our own children!).
As insightful as these books may be, Jesus' prayer for his followers is not that we find the latest "self-help" books to increase our knowledge and take control of our lives. Jesus' prayer is that we come to faith, that we find some kind of oneness with other believers, and that we experience a level of love that is akin to being in the very presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I don't understand all of this, but it sounds much more important to me than any self-help book. Maybe that's why some people have tried to turn the Bible into a self-help book: "Do this and God will bless you!"
The Bible is not a self-help book. The Bible tells us about God's love, mercy and compassion in God's created order, in God's saving work in Christ, in God's restorative power in your life and mine and finally in the new heaven and the new earth.
Yes, watching our weight, investing wisely, living healthily, and loving our grandchildren are all important to life; but nothing is more important than knowing Christ's saving love and Christ's prayerful desire that we be one with each other, just as Christ is one with the Father. Just think, Christ prays to God for you and me "...that the love you (God) have for me (Christ) be in them and that I myself (Christ) may be in them." WOW!!!
John 17:20-26 (NRSV)
20 "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25 "Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me.
26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."