Two Ways to Justify Our Self

I love when I get the opportunity to talk with and teach students. They are at the stage of life where they are simultaneously beginning to define their self while trying to understand how their faith relates to the life they want to live. Yesterday we were talking about what sin is and how we overcome it. Broad topic. One common response in our discussion was that we overcome sin by following the rules. And while for the students, they are just beginning to explore if this is a good spiritual strategy, for most of us, it is our default way of functioning in our spiritual life. When push comes to shove, just try harder to stop sinning! This is simply our attempt to justify our self before God. “Here I am God, I’ve made my self good enough.” It is the Lie, another way – although a religious way – to pursue wholeness apart from God. Because we are broken image bearers, our focus is self-centered. As disciples, that concept extends to the functional ways we attempt to be right before God. Self-justification is the idea that being right before God is up to us. Our effort. Our results. It is the attitude that says grace was OK for salvation, but grace is not part of sanctification. And there are two patterns that we follow to do this. They are extensions of the old or false self  that is comfortable and familiar and at war with our new self in Christ. One pattern of self-justification is by following the rules. Then we can look to God and say I...

Robinson Cano, Twitter, and Dehumanization

Jimmy Fallon had a funny bit on his show a few months ago. In it, a former New York Yankees baseball player – Robinson Cano – was back in the Big Apple playing with his new team. So Jimmy had a large picture of Cano in his new uniform and invited New Yorkers to boo and yell what they wanted to at the picture. After they were done, while they were talking with an interviewer, Robinson Cano would walk out from behind the picture. The reactions of the former hecklers was priceless. Here is the video for you to watch. What I found most interesting about the video was how it illustrates our tendency to dehumanize people. Whether it is an athlete, entertainment personality, homeless person, or a victim of a disaster far away, our tendency is to categorize people and respond to the role or category rather than their humanity. For the people in the video, that became hard to do when the actual person, complete with feelings and responses, was standing in front of them. This attitude toward people is epidemic on Twitter, where anonymity and 140 character create a false sense of bravado in people and the words they use. Ever check out the replies to a female celebrity picture? It is quite an education to see what people can spout off, everything from what they want to do to them in bed, harsh denouncements of what the person originally said, to judgments about appearance and their last performance. Quite the opposite of what you’d expect, social media dehumanizes people to each other. Rather than a person,...

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