07 October 2012

The Object of our Gaze.

I was recently in a small group of women who were, in beautiful vulnerability, confessing sins to one another.

One confessed to thinking too poorly of herself and her skills; of not taking herself seriously in the work that God's called her to. Another confessed that she thought too much of herself, finding herself taking pride in gifts and revelations from God, as if she had earned them. Another confessed that she is too sensitive to any criticism, real or perceived, and finds herself too often trying to justify and defend herself.

I was one of those women. Okay, while we're on the topic of confession, I was the middle one. But like confession does, there was healing in it. And I thought it was remarkable how an unplanned theme of our confession emerged: wrong views of self.

This is a big issue for the woman who follows Jesus. And there is a temptation for the prideful person to remedy her sin by remembering her brokenness and her faults; or for the person with low self-esteem to remedy her sin by focusing on her positive traits. But I think those remedies can often be like an overcorrection in driving, just taking us from one ditch to another.

I remember Pastor James MacDonald saying once that the problem with both self-esteem that is too high and self-esteem that is too low is too much focus on self. The remedy for either of these isn't to try look at yourself differently as much as it is to look at God. It is there that the prideful person and the self-deprecating both find their remedy. Knowledge of who God is and what he has done necessarily shows us who we are. Gazing into God sets everything else in order, including our self-identity.

This inevitably leaves us in state of humble gratitude; the recipients of immeasurable goodness that we did nothing to earn. We intuitively feel grace: unmerited favor: we are without merit and we are favored. We're able to hold those two concepts in effortless tension when we're gazing at him with open hands. And that humble gratitude is the remedy; the way; the path between the two ditches - we find it by looking onward and upward, to the Way we're following.

 "let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith" 

1 comment:

nataliemma said...

Beautiful. Please keep writing. Thank you for this reminder: we are without merit and we are favored.

Amen.