Jesus Christ sure understood the human condition. He knows us for what we really are; all the warts and blemishes have not gone unnoticed. Just read what He taught and you will see this for yourself. He seemed to focus His teaching on those areas we humans have the most trouble with. The more we struggle with it, the more Jesus taught about it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wrote yesterday (see it here). I remembered a couple of Jesus’ lessons that seem to apply to yesterday’s topic; our frequent inability to read the Bible objectively, because our pride and ego get in the way. Jesus talked a lot about this, but not always in these terms. Yet His lessons often boiled down to the problem of our ego; the problem of our “self” getting in the way. Please bear with me as I ramble on…
Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Deny your “self”; that’s one of Jesus’ lessons for us. It’s not an easy thing to do, to be sure. And I don’t believe we are expected to do this on our own (I know I can’t) – I believe God will do the hard work, if we only have the desire to deny ourselves. But what does it mean to deny your “self” if not to let go of your ego, let go of your “self” centeredness, and grab hold of humility.
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
And another thought: we are shaped by our upbringing and life experiences. Likewise, our worldview, how we look at the things that go on around us, is equally shaped by our past. Yet this past is often filled with ego-centered events; be it either our ego or the ego’s of those around us. Just look at the baby-boomer generation, of which I belong: we have been called the “me generation”. Is that an image of self-centeredness or what? The society in which we live helps mold us into the selfish individuals we have become. If you can look at yourself objectively (not easy for some of us self-centered people, of which I am definitely one), you will see that this is true.
So maybe as much by genetics as by our life experiences, we have been born into a self-centered life. Could this be why Jesus calls us to be reborn (lesson #2 for today)? “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3)
For me, to be born again is to deny my “self”, in effect putting my “self” to death; and then becoming a new person – a humble, other-centered person.
Referring back to yesterday’s topic: next time you read the Bible, if you have not done this before, try to consciously put your “self” in the background, and read with a humble, open heart. You just might see things that you’ve never seen before.