Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Blogtext: I, Me, Mine, the shortsightedness of selfishness.



Often enough we are forcefully reminded that this is the age of super-individuality. The social structures are falling apart because the self-interest of the individuals is not matched by insight into the long-range consequences.

This holds true inside and outside the Church of Christ. Sadly the ways of the world are the patterns also of the churches. The pulpits are full of well-meaning but misguided supporters of individualism at the cost of what can be called 'body consciousness'. All boils down to "My blessings, My needs,  My problems, My feelings, My future, My life, My salvation, My theology, My rights, My gifts, My role". 

This prevalent attitude is not a result of biblical teaching. It is the result of unsaved egotism. No man or woman is saved whose innermost throne is occupied by the self. Salvation means:"Under new management".

Christmas-time means that many hear passages of scripture being sung in the great works of past musical masters such as G F Händel, J S Bach and W A Mozart to mention but a handful. How many actually listen to the words is another matter. "The kingdom of this world is become, the kingdom of our God and of His Christ." After the death and resurrection of Christ all power and dominion and authority has been handed over to Him who now sits at the right hand of the Father in glory. And while the churches continue to repeat '"Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" the evidence of the ruling power of Christ in both the actual churches as well as in the lives of the individual remains a non-practiced entity.

True church is nothing if it is not cessation of egotism. Just listen to these statements of the disciples of the Lord of old.


"You do not any longer belong to your selves, you have been bought with a price, therefore honour God with your bodies"
"You were bought with a price, do not become slaves of human beings."
"Do you not know that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own!"
"For none of us lives to please himself, neither does anyone die to himself. For whether we live, we life unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's."
"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds in the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."
"You know that you were not redeemed  with corruptible things such as  silver and gold from the vain manner of life that you had inherited from the traditions of your fathers. But you were redeemed (bought free) with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or spot."
We are not our own, if we have been saved by the blood of Christ. 

We have in effect dethroned the self and evacuated the throne room, that innermost sanctuary from which we ran our own lives according to our own will until we became converted. So who sits on the throne now?

While Peter was a self-determined man he went where he wanted to go. But when he reaches maturity he finds himself being led by someone else, led even where he himself would never have gone of his own accord. Because there has been a shift on the throne in his power-hub his life becomes the belonging of one greater than Peter. Unless that transaction is what the gospel preaching results in then only half has ever been told.

In some other context I have shared the three tasks of a jewish Father. He must teach the children the Law of God, he must teach them a trade or profession so that they will not become a burden for others and he must be about the business of guiding his children towards a suitable marriage by pointing in the direction of suitable partners. We know of the earthly father of Jesus the Christ that the first two were taken care of, but Josef disappears before Jesus ever comes near to the issue of marriage. It is the heavenly Father who does that third bit. And it is the son himself who acts to make for himself a bride. That is why the Church in the Scriptures is described as a bride for the glorified Christ.

It is as being a part of that bride that the issue of selfishness becomes most exacting and poignant. The body of the church has specific requirements. Here  are some: 

  1. Every individual must submit to the head. Holding fast to the head.
  2. Every individual must recognize the equal importance of all the others. The hand cannot say to the foot, I don't need you!
  3. Every individual must sacrifice itself to the whole on a daily basis. I  adjure you by the mercies of God that you present yourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord, this is your true worship.
  4. Every individual member of the body must be considered to be of equal importance. Be kindly affectionate one to the other with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another.
  5. Every action in the body is to be understood as affecting the whole. If one member suffers then the whole body is in pain.
The individuality and selfcenteredness of our age is quite contrary to all of these things and it is therefore no wonder at all that the body of Christ has moved over into the field of 'interest groups', membership circles and societies for the propagation of this and the other. The major result of salvation is to create that spiritual reality which is called 'unity in the Spirit', or in the Words of the Lord: "If ye have love one for the other, then the world will see that the Father has sent his Son, I in you and I in the Father, so that the World may see.."

"Is Christ divided?"  Yes, split up in a thousand directions by theological preferences and added to it this modern ultra selfishness. I, Me, Mine..

If love is not, and indeed there is no loving one another if all we love is ourselves in a wrong way, then we actually deny that God has loved the world in our practice, even while still saying all the right things. To love our neighbor as our selves is not possible until we have clearly understood that "This is the first commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your strength, all your mind and all your heart, and then your neighbor as yourself."

The church-life of the normal christian is one of submission to God, to Christ, to the shepherds of our souls, and to one another.

The selfie-generation cannot even spell to the word 'submission'.

So then do we really believe in God or is god a codeword to cover our selfishness?

Teddy Donobauer , Doncaster 3 Jan 2018

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