There’s this idea of finding yourself by looking within. It came up last time too about “following your heart.”
It’s Who I Am. As long as I’m not hurting anyone…
Many people base their identities (who they are) on their political ideologies, careers, or sexual orientation. It often starts with the idea that “I’m a good person.” Sure! We all want to think that we are basically good. From this, there’s a push to “be true to yourself.” The whole “you do you” thing.
This belief is not new and did not originate in the ’60s. It started many years before, and then was given great momentum in the US with the psychological teachings of Sigmund Freud (early 1900s): “Sexuality and self-fulfillment now go hand-in-hand. To be sexually fulfilled is what it means to be human.”
There’s also been a sharp decline in the meaning and significance of marriage. Marriage used to be a far more community-type event (not the more intimate aspects, of course), but it was about two communities joining together. Now, it’s become all about individualist pleasure gratification.
Many see religion as a means for coping/therapy, and if there is a god then it’s just a means towards self-gratification/edification. The purpose of life is to seek happiness – “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is in the US Declaration of Independence! We are the heroes of our own stories.
This is a powerful and attractive lie. It relieves us from the offensive burden of sin – that we are basically bad (back to the Hamilton/Jefferson debate last time). One of the lines from this study that really struck me:
[This lie] saves me from the idea that I could be a prisoner to irrational impulses and provides human reason to ease feelings of guilt/shame.Pastor Ben Spaulding
The thing is: Our identities are at the same time complex and simple. This tension creates a maelstrom of conflict within. We all have situations around us that we can and cannot control, and we’re all left to make sense of it somehow. This struggle for identity is common to all humankind.
To reject our identities as God’s children, we necessarily have to accept other bases for our identities. The thing is – God does not change. Everything else does! Everything else is completely fallible, volatile in nature, and inherently unreliable in some way, shape, or form.
Basing our identities on our own experiences and choices is fallacy. Can those experiences and evaluations of those experiences really be trusted as truth? Doesn’t our evaluation of our experiences change over time as we grow, mature, and have more experiences? If something is always changing, is it dependable?
What Scripture Says
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;Romans 3:9-12
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Original sin, that we are all basically bad and are in need of a Savior, can also be unifying. It can be more unifying than anything else because God is ultimately reliable, faithful, and capable.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:9-17