This week I’ve been reading a book called “Being the Bad Guys” by Stephen McAlpine. (Some might remember that Cameron promoted this book at Digging Deeper last year.)
I particularly found the fifth chapter of the book helpful. It points out a “gospel” that’s becoming increasingly popular in our society. A gospel that says that the way to find happiness is to be true to ourselves, to be authentic. To work out who we are, celebrate who we are, and then enjoy the resulting feeling of fulfillment that comes from living in a way that is authentic to ourselves.
If you’re anything like me this way of thinking is pretty familiar, even in my own life. And certainly there’s lots of good in knowing ourselves, working out our strengths and gifts and living accordingly. And certainly this modern gospel isn’t totally wrong or ‘evil’. But there are some problems with thinking this way too. What happens when ‘being true to oneself’ begins to dominate our thinking to the point that we don’t consider others? What happens when we do everything we can to live ‘authentically’ but still don’t feel fulfilled like we hoped we would?
The Christian Gospel is actually not one of self-actualisaiton, but one of self-deinal. McAlpine says this:
“Self-denial, on the other hand, calls us to lean on God and trust his words, refusing the deadly path that Adam and Eve took and accepting God’s vision for flourishing rather than constructing our own. And it calls us to do that even when it means losing out now in the hope of life later.” (P82)
As followers of Jesus, we are actually called to look to the interests of others, even before looking to live lives that are true to our authentic selves. Of course Jesus is the ultimate example of denying himself for others’ sake.
I’m sure with COVID and everything going on at the moment there are plenty of opportunities to stand out by living this way. Plenty of opportunities to show Jesus to others by our actions and priorities. Do you think that’s true? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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