Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Finding Myself

It is commonly thought that the chief thing I need to do is find the real me. Somewhere deep inside, there is a real, and presumably better, me that is struggling to get out. And if I can just find it and bring it out, I will be a better person. What are the results of this approach? There may be individuals in which this leads to complacency. A person may conclude that they are in touch with their real self and do not need to change. And by accepting themselves just the way they are, they leave themselves just the way they are. But this is not what normally happens. More commonly, finding our true inner self can lead us to a continuous struggle to find that elusive inner self, which always evades our grasp. The problem is, how do we know what our true inner self is, and how can we tell if we find it? Do we merely follow our impulses? Is it really a good thing to simply follow our impulses? And if not, how do we go about determining our true selves? Further, this can become a serious burden if we think we need to find ourselves and feel unable to. And if our life does not go the way we expect it to go (whose life ever goes exactly the way they want it to go?) we can endlessly pursue this mysterious phantom of our true self.  This can lead to a treadmill of discouragement and depression.

God takes a different approach. He says that as we look inside ourselves, we will find we are sinners who have disobeyed God's commandments (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). The goodness we seek and want to find is not in us, but we must get it from another source. We must come to God and put our faith in Him, to be forgiven (Romans 3:21-26; Colossians 2:10-15; Ephesians 1:7) and then transformed by His power (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:12-16). In doing this He puts us in our own place within  the larger structure of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-16). Now in working this transformation, God takes to Himself all that is good and usable in our character and talents. But the primary source is not in the things that are in us, but in the power of God that is at work in us to change us. All that we bring to God is only an empty vessel into which the real power is poured. If we try to ground our significance and ideas in ourselves, we can look perpetually and never find what we are looking for. But if we follow God, we will start to become who He means us to be. That does not mean it will always be easy, but we can trust in Him to bring us through. For we find who we should be in Him, not ourselves.

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