You Got to Lose Yourself


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“Those who love their life will lose it,”  In order to discover our “true self,” we must be willing to die to our “false self.” The false self is who we think we need to be in order to survive, be successful, and be happy, to thrive. It consists of the habits and rituals we’ve developed since our childhood, what Thomas Keating calls, “our personal emotional program.” These are things we do to get the things we need and want out of life. Things like safety and security at home, school or work, or in our personal relationships. It’s the relational activities and the things we do to win the approval of our friends, family, parents, teachers, and authority figures. It’s our manipulation of and negotiation with those around us that benefits us. It’s the stuff that we do to protect our “vulnerable self.” It’s motivated out of our fear and insecurity.We know we are operating in our false selves when we live believing that we don’t need God, that we’re doing just fine on our own. We are our false selves when we desire to create an image of ourselves based on how we want others to see and think of us. When this image fails, we consciously, or subconsciously, give in to emotions like anger, fear, lust, pride, greed, envy, and apathy, this is our false self. These are the emotions we have been wrestling with since the start of our rebellion against God. Left unchecked, these emotions rob us of the good life, they prevent new seeds from springing forth. They prevent the fruits  of the spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) from taking root in us, transforming us.Fear and insecurity threaten our willingness to follow Jesus into life through death into a new reality, a new world order. Jesus wants us to reclaim our divine selves as image-bearers of the good and beautiful God.

Jesus makes a clear declaration to us: the Satan using the powers of this world can’t put to death what God calls to life. Before we find Jesus on the cross defeating the powers of sin, death, and evil, we find him as the illegitimate son of an unwed teenage mother. In a culture where “whose your daddy” is a big question, Jesus’ paternity was in question . Along with Jesus,  we meet this fisherman from Galilee, Simon. As a Galilean, when he opened his mouth, people immediately knew where he was from and probably made assumptions about him and his ability and skill. To those around Simon, his voice would have sounded thick, harsh. And we all know about the assumptions we make about people and the way they sound to us.

In the grand scheme of things, these are two “nobodies” who discover each other, and through God’s transformation of each of them, they suddenly become somebodies. There’s power in a name. Here we have a carpenter’s son and a fisherman, and one declares the other one as God’s promised Messiah. He in turn has been identified as the rock on which this promised Messiah will build his church. This theme of changing someone’s name is central to the unfolding story of grace and redemption that we observe in scripture. Over and over, God renews someone’s identity by changing their name. He did that with Abram (high father), who became Abraham (father of a multitude). He did that Jacob (supplanter), who became Israel (having power with God), He did with Simon (the reed), who became Peter (the rock).

At the center of our death to the false self is a shift in our posture. We have to end our participation in the rebellion against God. And we have to follow Jesus  to the cross where we die to our false self and come alive with him into a new reality, a new world order. We have to break our allegiance with the powers: sin, death, and evil, and enter the kingdom to discover our new life, our new identity.

Think about the encounter between Simon Peter and Jesus, and their boldness in naming something they see in each other. There is something very powerful in that prophetic encounter. We are all created in the image of the divine. Ask the Father to open your eyes so that you can see His beauty in someone you meet this week. Can you see good qualities in others that they may not be able to see in themselves? Can we look at each other and discover the good that God is doing in our lives, can we call it out, and celebrate it? Can you see the divine presence in other people? Would you be able to share what you see with the person?

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing:

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