The Sovereign Self

On Friday, November 11, 2011, LTi is hosting an event at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Your Inner Fire for God” with special guest speaker Chris Webb (and yours truly). In anticipation of that event I am focusing my weekly blogs on the topic, “What are the winds that blow toward your soul and seek to extinguish your inner flame for God?”
Part two: Our pride, the root of our self-absorption. As believers in Jesus, we are called to the opposite: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2: 3,4).
In what some would label as “the age of the sovereign self” we are continually looking out for #1: me, myself, and I. Life is all about my needs being met in ways that satisfy my wants and wishes. When self is priority, we will do everything possible to protect, provide and please our prideful ways. We will control, manipulate, and strive toward being the center of attention, the focal point of interest, and the intriguing envy of others.
One of the great inhibitors to the kindling of our inner fire for God is our ever-present, pervasive, persistent focus on self. How can I get my hands on “more and more” status, possessions, physique, and pizzazz than any other around me? How can I acquire the next rung on the ladder of success, no matter the casualties I cause every step of the way? How can I out-smart, out-wit, out-run, and beat-out my competition no matter the cost? These are the internal motivations of the prideful person. Are you thinking all of this doesn’t exist in your heart too?
How easy it is to point fingers at the speck of prideful proof in the eyes of others…and yet how counter-cultural and so much more like Jesus when we honestly see the pride-filled log in our own eyes. As followers of Jesus, we are called to consider the needs of others more important than our own. Humility instead of pride. Grace instead of judgment. Mercy instead of punishment. Love instead of fear.
Take some time this week to reflect on how many of your words, actions, and attitudes are focused almost exclusively on yourself. Then, consider how often you spoke, thought, acted and felt humbly and open-handedly toward another. Kindling your inner fire for God begins by recognizing your propensity toward yourself and then purposefully flipping that upside down and inside out toward the Lord Jesus, and then offering a loving cup of encouragement, joy and blessing to all who cross your path. Forsake the sovereign self and choose today the humble way of the Sovereign Lord.