The prayer was simple but rather profound. Eight words that zeroed in on the problem. “Dear God: I have a problem. It’s me.” There is no doubt that in our Western culture we are more individualistic than in other cultures. Generally speaking, things are centered on ourselves – the things we like or don’t like, our desires, our needs, our wants. It is said that the three big issues facing our generation are consumerism, individualism, and a sense of entitlement. Everything around us seems to reinforce that message – our individual rights to this, our individual rights to that. “What about me?” “How does this or that affects me?” “What is it in for me?” are just some of the questions we ask ourselves when faced with certain situations. It is as if we are wired for selfishness.
Not surprisingly, we take the same attitude into our spiritual lives. If we are not satisfied with what is happening in our places of worship, it’s “their problem” because our attendance is dutiful and we come only to be entertained and be served. Let someone else work with the children, including ours. Let someone else be a ministry volunteer. All of this while we sit critically of those who are giving of themselves, finding fault with what they do, how they do them, while thinking to ourselves we could do it much better. If only we had the time or the interest.
Jesus calls us to live above ourselves. In Luke 9:23-24 we read: “And He said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.'” In another instance, Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal'” (John 12:24-25). The words “verily, verily” underscore the importance of the truth of His Words. Though speaking of His death, we can apply the very same principle to our lives. As long as we live for ourselves, individualistically, we live alone. It is only when we die to self and start living for God and others that we bring forth much fruit.
“Dear God: I have a problem. It’s me.” My self, my ways, my desires, my attitudes. Isn’t it time we yield to His lordship over our lives and allow Him to live through us? Time to surrender ourselves to His will and His ways? In the words of the hymn writer, “Let me lose myself and find it Lord in thee / May all self be slain, my friends see only thee.” It is only then that our lives will be transformed from being centered on ourselves to being sweet smelling fragrances of God’s grace. A grace that we willingly extend to others. How are you living?