Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Overcoming Spiritual Self-Blindness

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The moon, 200,000 miles above my house

I once was invited to speak to medical students at Michigan State University's School of Human Medicine. I talked with some of them after my presentation. The subject of self-evaluation came up. The students told me they were advised not to diagnose themselves when experiencing troubling symptoms. They should get an outside evaluation from another physician. The reason for this is that it is hard to see clearly when you are self-involved. This is also why you and I should, in general, stay off the internet when we are symptomatic.

The same principle holds, generally, in the spiritual and moral life. In Psalm 19:12 the psalmist writes, Who can discern their own errors? The answer is: no one, or at least, not many.

We are notoriously blind when it comes to our own spiritual self. One symptom of spiritual self-blindness is going up and down with the opinions of people, about you. Both self-grandiosity and self-hatred indicate a lack of self-revelation.

The remedies for this are:

1. Immerse yourself in the Jesus community. Be part of a small, home group fellowship. Over the years I have learned much about myself in small group contexts.

2. Have a spiritual mentor. Connect with someone who cares for you and loves you enough to tell the truth, as they discern it, about you.

3. Abide in Christ, and as part of that abiding pray, Search me, O God, and know my heart. I have found that, as I do this, God reveals the truth about me, either immediately by His Spirit, or mediately by His Spirit through people and circumstances.

When we come to see more truth about who we really are, it is all accompanied by God's perfect love, even when the truth is a hard one. This is all redemptive, all part of the rescue of us.

My recent book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.