Posts Tagged ‘self’

I recently saw a quote which I believe beautifully encapsulates the prevailing spirit that hangs over the western religious landscape.  The words were attributed to Bishop John Shelby Spong, and though I was not able to confirm that they were his, they did seem to be indicative of what I know of his particular worldview.

Ostensibly, he said, “I do not think of God theistically, that is, as a being, supernatural in power, who dwells beyond the limits of my world.  I rather experience God as a source of life willing me to live fully, the source of love calling me to love wastefully, and to borrow a phrase from the theologian, Paul Tillich, as the Ground of being, calling me to be all that I can be.”

I believe that many who would heartily endorse these concepts would also count themselves as “Christians”.  Still others might not find these ideas particularly troublesome, despite their distinctly anti-Christ nature.  The author embraces a nameless, faceless, person-less power, who will not contradict his sense of what is right, or hold him accountable in any way.  Indeed, he’s found a god who will empower his sense of “self” instead of demanding that he die to it.  This would seem to go well with much of what passes for “Christianity” in the west.

Recently, the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University published findings from their survey of over 1,000 “Senior Pastors”.  According to their results, one third of the pastors believe that “good people” can earn their way to heaven, that the Holy Spirit isn’t a person (just a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity), and that having faith matters more than which faith you have. 

Perhaps more alarming, is that almost 40% of the evangelical pastors surveyed believe that there is no absolute truth, and that individuals “determine their own truth”.  It’s impossible to reconcile that paradigm with a Jesus who claimed to be the truth (John 14:6), and who declared that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).  The overarching conclusion of this survey was that only about 37% of US based pastors hold a worldview that might be considered “biblical”.

Within this off-brand of “Christianity” (i.e. Humanism dressed in religious garb), which doesn’t include the fundamental principle of taking up our cross and following (i.e. dying to self), Christ becomes little more than a tool for our endless pursuit of happiness.

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Unchecked insecurity tends to evolve into a perverse form of narcissism, where one is consumed with anxiety about what people are thinking about them, or saying about them, or even what they are not saying about them.  Over time, they become convinced that everyone is looking at them, having feelings about them, and ultimately judging them.  It is the definition of “self” absorption.

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Until we get “Self” in check, unity is off the table.

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The Answer:

























Selfish Ambition

Selfish Pride

















The Question:

What are some things that stand in the way of becoming a partaker of the divine nature (2Pet 1:4)

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  1. Convenience – Our culture is absolutely obsessed with making everything fast, easy, and achievable with the touch of a button.  We have an “app” for just about anything you can think of, and a huge amount of an average person’s life is channeled through their electronic devices.  But with every advance in this direction, we become less tolerant of things that require any sort of sustained effort on our part, or things that take time.  We also become more dependent on the technology for even the most basic of functions.  Given the fact that life is a long journey, which requires genuine determination, perseverance and patience, this trend doesn’t bode well for our future.
  2. Sex – Without a doubt, sex is meant to be one of life’s great pleasures, but just as doubtless, there is a context within which it was meant to fit in our lives.  In the decades since the “Sexual Revolution” began, our culture has found ways to inject sex into all sorts of settings, circumstances, and contexts where it doesn’t belong.  This has not only resulted in confusion and dysfunction, for many it has reduced sex to nothing more than a bodily function.  That’s sad, because it was intended to be so much more.
  3. Stardom – The insatiable craving for notoriety within our culture continues to fill our screens (both large and small) with images of people willing to eat bugs, wife swap, gender swap, submit themselves to tortuous circumstances, fix bad tattoos, torment their kid on the pageant circuit, wrestle alligators/snapping turtles/wolverines, bully their wedding planner, search for bigfoot…  And all of this has created a new breed of star that includes people like the “Reality TV Star”, and the “You-Tube Star”.  Most of these folks are not known for a specific talent, or some meaningful contribution to society, they’re simply famous for being famous (e.g. the Kardashians); which somehow manages to take the superficiality of “fame and fortune” to a whole new level.
  4. SWAG – Though the exact meaning of this term continues to evolve, it comes from the word “swagger”.  And it refers to a person’s attitude, self-image, and self-confidence.  Sadly, for the emerging generation, this confidence doesn’t necessarily need to be rooted in any sort of reality.  With a steady diet of trash talk, and brash posturing, one’s “SWAG” is often just an alter-ego (i.e. the person they wish they were or imagine they will become), and ultimately how they choose to market themselves to the world.  In such cases, life has a way of reducing these facades to rubble (e.g. OJ Simpson, Allen Iverson, Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan…).
  5. Self – This is the age of the “Selfie”, where people spend countless hours each day broadcasting their “status”, their reactions, their opinions, pictures of themselves, pictures of their food, videos of themselves…  And while a certain amount of that can be relatively harmless, the cumulative effect is that it keeps most people focused on themselves, and on what everyone else is thinking & saying.  Ultimately, the most miserable life that one can lead is one that is all about themselves.

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