Monday, February 15, 2010

It's not about me?

There are always some things that I just take for granted. Things like the idea that 'it's not about me.' I hear this over and over again and sometimes I think I've got it and other times I need to hear it more often. Sometimes I pay attention to various phrases and words that come into my life to remind me of this and other times I allow them to just become absorbed into the vast amount of information that I take in during the day.

This weekend I seem to have been taking in this information more and more. I don't know if it's for me or for you.

"This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

I hear a lot of Christians going on and on about how much they love God and somehow that in itself is supposed to make a difference. When I read this verse in my email inbox, I was struck by how unimportant our action or inaction is. God doesn't wait for us to love Him. He doesn't change His mind about how He loves us based on what we do or don't do. He loves us because He is. That's all there is to it. We try to make everything else a huge big deal and we create rulesets for how we respond to this love. We pass judgment on ourselves and others, we spend hours trying to atone for the sins we have committed.

We make this entire relationship with God all about us! We are so focused on what we do as Christians, we forget that it's not about what we do - it's about what God has done, is doing and will always do. Love us.

The rest of that? Pretty self-centered.

Then I read this:
I have learned that what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. - Author Unknown

That pretty much speaks for itself. I have nothing more that I could possibly add to it. It's not about us.

I've been reading an amazing novel by Steven Pressfield, "Gates of Fire." It's about the Battle of Thermopylae - the Spartans and the Persians in 480 bc. The man's writing is incredible, but I find myself caught up in the insights that I see into the training of the Spartan army. At the age of 7 they began training for battle. The boys were whipped and beaten, nearly starved and physically destroyed so that they would be fearless on the battlefield. All fear of loss of life is removed from them. What they came to understand was that their bodies didn't belong to them. Their bodies belonged to their commanders, to their country. They would willingly give their bodies up for the city, their families, their fellow Spartans.

If they lost a piece of armor or headgear, it was overlooked, but if they disrespected or lost their shield, they were punished severely. The armor or headgear was for personal protection, but the shield was part of the protection of the line and was essential for caring for their brothers on the field, some of whom they were very close to - and others whom they didn't know at all, the just knew they were fellow Spartans.

I live in a culture and a world that is extremely self-centered. We demand that everything be adjusted to adapt to our personal comfort and freedom.

As I thought about that this morning, I began to chuckle as I realized how frustrated we are (I am) with the weather. This is something that is out of our control. We can't adjust it to make things easier or better for ourselves. We have to simply wait until the season is over and we find that maddening!

Today I'm going to pay attention to the people I interact with, the things that I do. What ways do I find to make life for myself easier at the expense of another - or even simply ignoring someone else? What behaviors do I exhibit that show off my selfishness?

I don't know that I'll be able to change much, but self-examination in my case on things like this generally is good for me and causes me to pay close attention to the needs of people around me. What about you?

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