The Lie That Grew From Self-Ignorance

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  Is the same person that others around you see?  The way we see ourselves is very important because we are all good at playing a role.  We live a life that is expected of us and most of us completely ignore the reality of who we are inside.  It is something that we learned early on in life and we developed a persona to deal with our environment, but also to elicit the responses from people we found benefited us the most.  We learned to be someone to fit into the world we live in.

The problem isn’t that we developed this persona but that we became so accustomed to it we completely ignored the reality within.  And the person we were created to be needs to be expressed.  But as long as we ignore our life inside in favor of the life we are accustomed to living and measuring up to people’s expectations of us we can never truly be happy or healthy.  Do we really know ourselves?  Or is the person you think you know just an illusion you have built?  The person we tell ourselves we are often hides the person that we really are.  And that opens the door to what the church has called “secret sins.”

I recently read “Consider the way a lack of self-knowledge affected the life of a well-known pastor and his congregation. No one would have doubted this man’s knowing of God—at least before his very public downfall. He had built a very successful ministry around his preaching, and there was no reason to suspect that he did not personally know the truths he publicly proclaimed. Nor was there any obvious reason to question his knowing of himself. Anyone who thought about the matter would probably have judged his self-understanding to be deep. His sermons often included significant self-disclosure, and he seemed to know how to be vulnerable before God.

But as for many of us, all of that was more appearance than reality. The self this pastor showed to the world was a public self he had crafted with great care—a false self of his own creation. Between this public self and his true experience lay an enormous chasm. Both that chasm and his inner experience lay largely outside his awareness. Suddenly the gap between his inner reality and external appearance was exposed. Things that he did not know or accept about himself welled up within him and shattered the illusion his life represented. Lust led to sexual involvement with a woman he was counseling, just as greed had earlier led to misuse of church funds. As these things became public, the lie that was his life imploded. It was a lie he had lived before his family, closest friends, congregation, God and himself. It was a lie that grew from the soil of self-ignorance.” Benner, David G. (2009-09-20). The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery (p. 21). InterVarsity Press.

God is interested in who we really, without all the masks and with all the warts and scars.  It is who we really are the He died to redeem.  Not the proper, got it all together, person we masquerade to those around us.  And a lot of the circumstances we find ourselves in are often God trying to bring the real us up to the surface.  Only when we recognize ourselves for who we are can we truly begin to change.  Only when we see ourselves for who we truly are can we see the effect our lives and choices are having and begin to make some real adjustments.

Our lives can change under the hand of God and we can become who we were created by God to be not who our circumstances created us to be.  But it is up to us to decide if we are going to take an honest look at ourselves and see what is truly inside.  God is waiting for us to do just that.  And if we will begin to open those locked doors in our hearts we will find that He is right there already waiting for us to open the door and walk in.  He will meet us in that moment and we can come to know Him more.  I can’t promise you that it is an easy journey to begin, or that is will be without pain.  I can only promise you the rewards will be worth the effort if we allow the illusion to fade and the reality of who we are to come into the light.

Questions everyone is asking

Every person around the world is asking three important questions.  Questions that need answers for our lives to have meaning and purpose.  Who am I?  Where do I fit?  What difference do I make?

The first is a question about identity, meaning a young person’s conception and expression of who they are. This question holds up the mirror and scrutinizes me.  Often this is a question that goes unanswered.  For a great many people the discovery of self is pushed aside in favor of being a part of the crowd, getting that big job or promotion, or something else that forces us to look away from who we are and instead forces us into a mold.  The church is one place that this happens and everyone is squeezed into the same cookie cutter and asked to conform.  And yet it is in the church, at least the one that Jesus is building, where we were called to find ourselves.  We were meant to discover our identity by coming to know the One who created us and called us to be. The Bible says, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11, The Message).  

We were all created with purpose and meant to live with passion.  And when we ignore this first question these get robbed from us and we instead live lives of mediocrity and conformity.

The second is a question of belonging, or a person’s quantity and quality of life-giving relationships. This question looks around the room, eager to explore us.   Answering this question without answering the first one is where many people get led astray.  We learn early on in life to adapt ourselves for a desired outcome.  ‘If I behave this way then people like me.’  Often the desire to fit in over rides our need to be ourself.  Both questions are important but they need to be answered together.  One cannot look for a place to fit in without taking the time to know who they are inside, and how to express that in the world they live in.

If we look to fit in without knowing ourself we will always be squeezed into the closest mold we find.  It is important that we all have a place to belong.  A place where others can communicate worth to us.  The first place is in a relationship with Jesus.  It is the first place and the most secure place to find this value.  And it is the place where we will have the highest value.  Jesus declared that you and I were worth dying for, and then He proceeded to do just that so that the door of relationship could be opened again.

The third is a question about purpose, or a person’s commitment to and ability to engage in meaningful activities that impact others. This question peers out the window and wonders about our world.   All of us start with the dream of changing the world.  It often doesn’t take very long for that dream to be taken away.  Life keeps coming and the demands it places on us are extreme.  And often just being able to pay bills and keep food on the table takes precedence over changing the world.

But every one wants to make an impact and to leave their mark on the world we live in.  We all cannot be Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King.  But the opportunities to change the world are available to us if we are willing to know ourselves.  Because that is the foundation we all build from.  Without that foundation the drive to conform will be to high.

“What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know… The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do… to find the idea for which I can live and die. SOREN KIERKEGAARD”

The world is looking for people who will rise up with passion and say that there is a better way.  To live a life full of purpose and passion is something that we all can do if we are willing.  It is up to each of us to determine how will we answer these questions?

When Your Faith is Empty

got-faith_t1‘Have a little faith.’  It’s a phrase that gets used a lot in our world.  It is used in many different contexts and there are many different understandings.  For some it is simply a belief in an unknown.  You can’t explain why you believe, you just do.  For others it is seeing the best in people or situations.  Others see it as things will get better, as ‘the night is darkest before the dawn.’  Some see it as a way to get things from God.  If I just believe enough then God will …

Faith is something much deeper for us as Christians.  It goes beyond the wish list and blissful ideas of a better future.  It grabs ahold of your soul and creates passion inside that cannot be pushed away.  Faith is a deep-seated belief that cannot be swayed or dismissed that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do.  It is the gift of faith that allows you and I to connect with God on a personal level.  It is faith that opens the door to experiencing God’s greatness.  But what happens when that faith begins to fade?  running empty

Circumstances can cause you to lose faith if we allow them to.  The passion we once had for God can diminish and if left untended will go out.  Jesus warned ” For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.” Matthew 24:12 MSG  The passion people have for God can go out, and the excitement for who God is and what God is doing can disappear if we allow it to.

Some signs your faith is running low are;

  • You go through the motions without emotion
    • If your walk with God has become mechanical then your faith is running low
  • Your passion is gone
    • A sign of low faith is what once excited you is now empty
    • Reading your bible and praying is a chore
    • Attending services is simply what your supposed to do
    • Soren Kierkegaard said that “if passion, intense personal involvement with the truth of something, is eliminated, then faith can no longer exist”
  • Your walk with God has become an intellectual exercise
    • Knowing all the right scriptures and having all the right doctrines, but no transformation
    • The Pharisees had most of the scriptures memorized and discussed them diligently but it was worthless activity for them
    • Jesus said of them “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39 NIV
  • You have a faith no one wants
    • While it is true that many will not want to walk with God and know Him we often use that as a justification for no one coming to know Christ
    • What may be true is they don’t see anything happening in your life so they don’t want what you have
    • The early church had a faith that was transforming lives and everywhere God moves people want to be apart
      • “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47 NIV

The good news is your faith can be restored again if you want it to.  But it is going to take some work on your part to do so.  Taking time to once again connect with God is the first step, because that is where your faith originated from in the first place.  Romans 12:3 “…God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith.” Voice.  So if your running low it is time to reconnect with your source.  Jesus said “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 NLT

We also to need to make sure that we are surrendered to God.  Often our faith has diminished because we allowed our focus to either wander from God into other things, so we need to reconnect, or we chose to not do something that God asked of us.  The reasons we have for it may sound really good to us, or it may simply be that we didn’t feel we could.  Whatever  the reason God is waiting to see if we will allow Him to lead us, which is what Him being Lord is all about.  If He isn’t driving, then our faith isn’t worth anything.  Surrender is essential to a passionate love for God.  Without it there can be no faith.  Alan Hirsch wrote “We do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because we have not attempted obedience.” 

We can have faith that transforms lives if we want to.  The question we need to answer is

What kind of faith do you want to have?