His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

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More Lessons About Ego

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.

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Ego – The Nasty Equalizer

Ego lowers people to the same level. Strange premise, you say? Please bear with me on this one.

What does a sizeable ego do to people? Well for one thing, it makes them think they are right and the other person is wrong, always. But mainly ego makes people blind to both sides of any issue. With ego, all a person can see is their side. Let me give a fictional example of what results from this…

Fred is a Christian who frequently demeans homosexuals. He believes all homosexuals will go to hell, and he doesn’t hesitate to express this opinion. Gail reads Fred’s blog and leaves a comment stating that all Christians are homophobic, insensitive, narrow-minded bigots.

Ironically, Gail has lowered herself to Fred’s level, by making her own narrow-minded, bigoted remark. Now I realize my example is not perfect, since Gail was provoked. But I hope you get my point, which is: Ego causes us to loose perspective and enter any situation seeing only part of the issue. And that gives those with bigger egos a huge disadvantage in that they are missing so much of the truth that resides in any issue. And I believe that without truth, there will be failure.

What does Jesus have to say about egos?

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

Humility is incredibly underrated in our society. And most, if not all, of the worlds problems are because of egos. Do you want to help solve social problems? Then look for the ego in the problem, and humbly keep your ego out of it.

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Expecting God to Change

God does not change, His laws do not change, and nothing He has taught us through His Son will ever change. If change is to happen, it must be within us. Jesus calls us to be reborn; to let go of our old self-driven life, and take on a new life driven solely by love for God. But our “self”, our ego is a stubborn beast and does not want to change. Many of us actually expect God to change instead.

Take Pastor Jane Spahr, for example. In her effort to promote same-sex marriage within the Presbyterian Church, she not only invites the church to change and support her opinions, but she seems to believe God has already done so: “I invite the church to understand and expand its view of marriage to incorporate all. I believe that God has said yes and the church has said no in its judicial court.” (April 30th issue of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

In the April 26th issue of the same newspaper, a supporter of Spahr’s position, in referring to the Presbyterian commissioners, is quoted as saying, “I hope, pray and believe that the spirit will move their hearts, and they will realize that now is the time for change.” Many of us advocate change, as long as the change goes our way; as long as others change to match our opinions and values.

Should God change His opinions to match ours? Should God proclaim our personal values higher than His own? To place our values above God’s, to place our opinions above God’s, to place our beliefs and views above God’s, is to exalt ourselves above God. What do you think Jesus would say to people like Jane Spahr, who apparently claim God has changed his views to match hers?

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind.” (Psalm 110:4)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Yet how about the claim that God has said “yes” to same-sex marriage? Does the Bible say this is true? Does Jesus say this is true? “Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

It sounds like Paul might have been referring to people of similar views as Pastor Spahr, when he said, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:25-27)

Why do we not only expect other’s to change to match our opinions and beliefs, but we also expect God to change? Such is the power of the human ego. Pride and selfishness plague us at every turn.

Yet we all have a choice; to form our own opinions or confirm to others, or to agree with God. I choose God. Does that make me close-minded? Well, Jesus warned us that we will be persecuted on account of Him – bring it on.