"Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. In this way, we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. (…) So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christs's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." Romans 12: 3-6 The Message
I've been thinking lately about a little tug-of-war that seems to go on between the ends of the spectrum that I might characterize as a crisis of self.
It seems we are waking up to some unintended consequences of showing children how treasured they are. We are finding that if we're not careful, this message comes across as "It's all about you." So now when we tell young adults raised with this message that actually it isn't all about them, sometimes it's a hard pill to swallow.
An interesting thing has happened in the aftermath of the self-esteem revolution. When I notice an attitude of entitlement (from people of any generation, myself included), I sometimes have a knee jerk response that can result in this message: "It's not about you at all." And I think that sometimes I hear that same response from the church. We want to teach truthfully, to say that the story of our lives is all about God--that all glory belongs to him, that we are created to be God-centered rather than self-centered, that being God-centered would naturally lead to being others-centered. I believe those things thoroughly.
But that doesn't mean that it is not about you at all. I think it's fair to say that it's partly about you, about us. I mean, I have to deal with myself every. single. day. I'm pretty sure it's the same for you. For the Christian whose aim is to make Christ central, we have no choice but to seek him through the lenses of our own eyes. When we do that, he can grow our field of vision, but it's our only starting point. If we try as vigorously to deny ourselves as we have to build ourselves up, we have no place from which to approach the God who purposefully made us.
And so, child of God, it is ultimately all about God. But as it pertains to you and God, of course, it is partly about you. He really does treasure you. He went to all of the effort of making you for himself. And he made you to join him in his work of restoring a broken world, just as he has restored and continues to restore the broken you. So just try to keep those things in perspective, and you'll be fine.
It's not all about you.
But it's partly about you.
Don't get your undies in a bundle over people who tell you it isn't about you at all, or people who live like it's all about them. Just pray for them. We all have to find that balance.