11 Jun When We Find Ourselves
What does it mean to “find yourself?” Does it mean anything? Type this phrase into a search engine and you’ll see a plethora of lists, tips, and tricks on how to “find you.” This loosely coined phrase rolls off of people’s lips as freely as a passing hello, rarely being explained by the person saying it nor being questioned by the person hearing it. This term has become a new age anthem, giving the person who thinks they have “found themselves,” the notion that they have somehow matured or arrived at a new level of enlightenment. This sentiment sells a ton of self-help books which claim to offer the answer to how to “find yourself” and people like Oprah and her followers love to toss the phrase around, all the while wallowing in a pool of deception, no wiser than they were before they came to whatever conclusion it was that convinced them of their new found self-importance. Often, this phrase is simply used to justify the state of our busted up morality. A way to excuse a selfish decision we have made. “I had to leave my husband/wife because after much soul searching I realized that I found myself and I just wasn’t the same person anymore.” Notice how many I’s are in that sentence? Exactly. Because sentiments like that are nothing but narcissistic ramblings made to look like brave soul searching, and the only people buying into the narcissism are the frauds who are posing as supportive friends. “I found that the more drugs I did, the closer I came to finding the real me.” I’ve actually heard people say that, and it’s nonsense. Simply put, it’s destructive escapism masquerading as wisdom.
What We Do When We “Find Ourselves”
There are really only two ways to translate what it means to find ourselves, that is, getting to the core of who we are and what makes us tick. What “finding ourselves” really means at the end of the day is ultimately either realizing how broken, weak, and self destructive we are due to living in a fallen world and finding a cause and solution, OR finding a way to justify or nullify our sin and brokenness. We even going so far as to attempt to disguise our sin and brokenness as an act of bravery and/or self discovery. In that, we may admit that the worldis broken, but we would still try to live in the lie that we are not broken. Justifying our brokenness is a thousand times easier than facing it, which is why most people flock to the act of sin justification. We love to justify our bad behavior and if we can not only justify it, but also puff up and boast because of it, then we will always do so when given the opportunity. This is why our society has moved into a state of morality where there are no absolutes. You will be labeled as hateful, self-righteous, and judgmental if you say that anything is sinful or wrong. Moralism has become completely subjective in western culture. That’s because living in our sin and brokenness is much easier when it is not being called out by anyone, and easier still when our sin is backed by the majority. If you want to be considered a modern day freedom fighter, a hero for “equality,” just get behind a cause that was once considered immoral. People will rally behind you and call you brave, and all because of your war cry for justification of immorality. The other side of the coin is seeing our brokenness for what it is and then desperately seeking to find a solution to the problem.
“Finding Yourself” In Worldly Sin
For years my life was steeped in sin justification. There was a day when I literally was kneeling on the floor, soaked in sweat, and sobbing uncontrollably because for years I had lived in justifying my badly broken life in the midst of my subjective morality. My mind and body were riddled with sickness from alcohol abuse; and finally, both body and mind had reached a breaking point. I felt anxious, exhausted, sick, and alone. I had a ton of friends, but still felt alone. God had been merciful in allowing me to nearly destroy myself. That was the moment I found myself. Sobbing, broken, and alone. Leading up to that moment when I knew something was wrong with the decisions I was making I would look to people to say that there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. When I would wake up and not remember the things I had done the night before I would feel a pit in my stomach, but that uneasiness would go away the minute someone told me how much fun they had with me, or how funny I was, or how they couldn’t wait to go out and do it again. I would tell myself things like, “This is what people do when they’re young,” or as I got older, “Why would I stop doing this, when I’m having so much fun?” I justified selfish sexual activity with women whom I had no intention of committing to. I justified three day drinking binges. I justified angry acts of physical intimidation and abuse towards others. It was far easier to justify those things by the acceptance of the culture around me then it would have been to face them and allow God to destroy my idols and do a work in me. Ending those bad habits by my own will would have been nothing but behavior modification. I could have gone to a support group, or read a self-help book to receive that. Hypothetically, even if I would have felt better in the aftermath from going to a support group or from reading self-help books, it would have been in exercise in futility. It would have been futile because I would have still been living in the delusion that I fixed things by my own power (with a few other people’s help). But that’s not what Christ wants from us or asks of us. It turned out that the only justification that I needed, and would ever need, is the kind that Christ offers through His finished work on the cross to those who understand their brokenness and need for justification through Him and Him alone.
“Finding Yourself” In The Sin of Religion
My wife “found herself’ in a different way than I did, but with the same level of depravity in her life. God was merciful to her in allowing her to nearly be destroyed by religion. The lie that religion tells us is that if we do _______, we get ______. In other words, we do things to earn God’s favor. This is something that separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. The problem with this belief is that it leads us to believe the lie that we can put God in our debt; instead of believing the truth that Christ has already paid our debt, leading us to a life of constant repentance and a deep yearning to glorify God instead of ourselves. My wife, Ashley, “was raised in church” but was living the lie that being a Christian means that you meet a list of demands given by God. Her “checklist” of good behavior and avoidance of bad behavior gave her the false sense that she was a good person. Even though this is what many people attempt to do with the message of Christ, it is a superstitious joke in light of what Christ came and did for us. He didn’t come and say “do,” He came and said “done.” His exact words were, “It is finished (John 19:28-30),” when he completed the unimaginable task of being slaughtered on a cross for our transgressions. We can’t earn what He has freely given us. He offers the world grace and no other religion in the world speaks of grace. There is no way to earn the grace of God, despite a great mass of false teaching that will tell you otherwise. You see, Ashley found herself when her world came crashing down and she realized that all of her church attendance, tithing, and praying weren’t earning her a ticket into heaven. All of her avoidance of bad behaviors wasn’t going to keep her out of hell. She was freed from the bondage of religion. Christ rescued her from the idol of religion and it’s lie of earned favor.
The Tension Between Rebirth and Continued Sin
The old me is dead. He was crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20). Before time began my Father in heaven knew of my wretchedness. He knew that the penalty for my sinfulness would be death. He knew that Christ would be the only one who could take on that death in my place. The new me is alive because of Christ’s death. His work is the only thing that has set me free from the bondage of my sin. My past, present, and future sins all have been and will be forgiven through the atonement of Christ. To this day, I could fill volumes with my sin if I were to keep record. That’s what needs to be remembered by everyone who is in Christ. We can’t let ourselves live in arrogance because of our faith. We, as Christ-followers, will sin now until we go home to be with our savior. I no longer have to repent of drunkenness or debauchery, but still have to bow to God and repent of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, for not loving people well, for often believing the lie that created things will bring me more joy than the creator will. I could easily keep this list going. No one stops sinning. Christians and non-Christians alike. The only thing that separates Christians from the world is the acknowledgement of God’s mercy on us, while exhibiting His perfect justice on His only son, while we were still sinners. The after effect of which is living a gospel transformed life, dedicated to loving others and glorifying God in all things. Not to get anything, but because of what we’ve already been given.
The After Effect
As Christ followers we are to live in constant repentance, while aspiring to go on God’s grand global mission in light of the new life which we have been given in Christ. This is what it means to be born again (John 3:1-15). We are all called to go on this mission together as the body of Christ. This beautiful mission of going to ALL nations to make disciples. No one gets to say, “That’s not my calling,” or “I’m too busy.” That doesn’t mean that everyone is called to move their lives to another country, but it still means that we are ALL called to be a part of that mission. There are goers and senders. Both of which have equal value on this grand mission because you can’t have one without the other. Both have to be in play in order for the mission to be carried out. God is merciful and gracious in even allowing us as broken people to take part in His mission. We should gladly suffer for the sake of His name in light of the everlasting love which He freely gives us.