Full of It
Updated: May 16
"Self" confidence is the anthem of my generation. There are whole careers built around it. We are always inventing new ways of ignoring our human need for God. Ways to try and bury our lack. Because we don't know what the heck to do with sin. We aren't always even sure if it's there. Or what it means.
Self-love platitudes and "empowerment" culture redirect broken people away from the cross that offers real life and power. They sound, look and feel good for a while. I've been there. I've been drawn into the way of the narcissistic generation that scripture describes as a last-days generation. I think the advent of psychotherapy, self-love culture, and social media serve the people described as "lovers of themselves" in 2 Timothy 3: 1-7.
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."
Part of this scorn towards parents comes out of therapy that focuses on blaming parents as the root of one's problems, which only serves to foster bitterness, resentment and unforgiving hearts - things that move us away from God's healing grace. God commands us to show mercy if we are to get his mercy. This whole parent-child discord trend is not a benign issue. It's malignant, spiritually. The "awakenings" that people come out of these pursuits with are false. And they are poison to the soul that God created for his his healing touch, through the blood of his son, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made Flesh.
We’re a mirror-gazing generation that loves to deconstruct ourselves. We all carry heavy stones from Egypt. We can't put them down, no matter how far we try and throw them. Even with the help of sage professionals, we can only rearrange our pain and sin. We can use glue and tape and sequins and whatever else the world and our own errant hearts hand us, but without our Creator, we resurrect ourselves into awkward assemblages that don't hold in the wind.
Like Eve, we are deceived by the lie that we can become wise without obeying God’s Word. We look to a self-improvement world for help and we repackage our issues into a presentation that looks like growth.
But, we're full of it. And most of us know it.
We're chained to our burdens without the regenerative power of faith in Christ.
We are so full of pride, in even our insecurities -- because they're still, at their root, all about us. Which is why we must be brought to the cross by the grace of God for a good deflating. We rarely come on our own, because we know that our balloon is dangerously thin and the cross is sharp, and we haven't grasped how much love there is to gain by flinging ourselves upon it.
"Self" confidence can hold us out from God because the soul that he gave us to depend on him senses the effects of a match on gas. If we only knew how much freedom and fresh air there is outside the encasement, we'd realize that our little puffed up balloons of what meaning we give ourselves or to life -- are prisons. And, that true confidence and freedom don't even begin until we take Christ's hand and leave the grave that we called living.
We are all broken. We all have pain. And our precarious posturing through life requires striving that God wants to free us from. He invites us into his grace and healing. The door and the path is narrow, specific, but oh-so-simple. And it starts with trading the self-gaze for the Jesus-gaze.
It's like seeing the world in technicolor after a life of grayscale. We can forget ourselves in His beauty all together. There is freedom in the self-forgetfulness of a Christ-exalting life. That's where I think that my own "foolish joy" comes from -- the disappearing of myself into Jesus. All of my burdens and self-concern get lost in Him, never to be found again. Redeemed in his love. Lavished by his Word.
We are generally, aimless, deciding that we don't need God, or that we can be God for ourselves. The abrasive strike of the Word of God, come in Jesus, against our pride is meant to consume the fumes of self-reliance and reveal that we're running on empty. The Word of God tells us the truth that no one else will. We are sinners, under the penalty of death, in need of Christ's sacrifice on the cross to exonerate us and make us new.
If we are wise to accept from God's hand, the gift of his Son, then we welcome the deflation of our perceived goodness (popped by God's law and Christ's perfection, like the prick of a balloon). We gratefully take hold of the perfection we inherit through belief in Christ, who died for our sin and rose to give us his inheritance. He calls us, who love him, chosen sons and daughters, heirs, kings, brothers, friends and beloved. Here is the only perfect confidence that even death cannot shake -- being attached at the hip to God Almighty. Imagine!
Jesus is the only one who can heal the pain and fear that rules our behaviors, our hearts, our thoughts, our relationships, and our lives. Growth is never about us self-improving. It's always about Christ growing in us, and us decreasing. This is the conviction of the heart that is the good soil for the seeds of the Holy Spirit to transform us. Humility tills the soil with obedience, and God brings the increase.
This is the way of life. Of healing. Of Wholeness. And of joy and peace, unmatched.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.