Friday, July 16, 2010

Self

One of the greatest dangers that we face in our journey with God is the self. How many times have we fallen on our knees in prayer, asking God to reveal Himself in a deeper, more real way, and all the while our focus is turned inward? It's easy for us to do this, isn't it? We are born into a culture that teaches us from day one that the self is the center of all that exists. And as we grow in our relationship and understanding of God, we find that we have already been conditioned to be obsessed with the self. The created being becomes more concerned with itself, rather than the creator.

As we walk through life, we find ourselves in a constant search for a feeling, emotion or experience in our relationship with God. We automatically want to place our faith and trust on that which is tangible. We long to cling to things we can see, smell, touch, taste, feel, etc. The most tangible thing in our existence is the self, and in an ironic quest, the self will always strangle off any hope we can manage to grasp hold of drawing closer to God.

Colossians 3:3-7 is one of the clearest passages of scripture concerning the self. In it we read that the follower of Christ should consider himself essentially dead. The self died, was buried and was raised with Christ. It's not an easy concept to grasp, but the self cannot exist in our relationship with God. The two are in constant conflict with one another. The self has no real existence, but none the less, continues to strive for significance, relevance and even superiority. It's a futile battle, but rages on each day of our lives.

So, how then should we see ourselves? Are we insignificant beings? Does our existence mean nothing? Does following Christ mean that we become mindless robots, walking the earth only to be controlled by a divine puppeteer? Absolutely not. We have each been created by God, possessing individual minds, with a vast array of gifts, talents and various aspects of personality that make us who we are. But the one thing we must consider, is this: the created being was not made to glorify in itself or be glorified by others. The created being was made for the sole purpose of glorifying God. And it is in that place of submission that we find our true identities, and the essence of what we seek from the self in the first place.

3 comments:

lauren said...

Beautiful!

vicki said...

hi jake! some of the best stuff i've ever read on True Self/False Self is by Basil Pennington - Unmasking The True Self and David Benner - The Gift of Being Yourself. i see more and more clearly how many try to create, find, or identify True Self - but it is none-the-less reduced to the obtaining of power, possession, prestige and people pleasing (temptation of jesus in the wilderness ). it seems that Jesus understood the the fullness of His freedom and the fullest embodiment of his True Self was intimately tied to the Father - the True Self lived intimately out of life in Him. I have come to believe that my False Self is any identify i try to achieve, create, that is outside of Him' outside of Love, and is, at some level, in being driven by small 's' self ego - an illusion. Jesus could say, 'damn the torpedos' - not because He has small 's' self at center but because He lived out of His true self in Abba. i'm blathering on.... but this topic is near and dear to my heart, because to me, it has been totally exploited in the name of Jesus lately in some of my recent experiences and observations. and i'm all for someone choosing to do their own thing... i just wish they'd quit using the name of Jesus to rationalize it.

Cheryl Ensom said...

I find myself wondering how to leave "self" behind in all ways. I get taking the focus off of me in relationships; though I think it's impossible to do that perfectly, I think it's a goal I can always be striving toward.

But with God...I find myself thinking back to the whole parent/child deal and how I, as a parent, want to nurture/foster/encourage/forward the "true self" in each of my kids. I don't want them to live life with the focus only on others. I want them to become and remain unequivocally THEMSELVES. I know you've got boys so I'm sure you agree. I'm wondering if maybe there's more than one "self." Vicki and I have been talking with some others about this exact topic and I've been writing about it a bit on my blog.

Is there a "Real Self" that actually IS God? Like...going back to your tile post above this one, there is a "self" that only we can be. By being that "Real Self" aren't we a reflection of our creator? or, if you don't believe in a literal creator, perhaps the totality of each of us and our real selves adds up to "what was meant to be," "the end of suffering," "the kingdom of heaven," or whatever your belief system would say is the ideal that's possible/we're meant for/long for.

Just thinking... :)