Saturday, August 17, 2019

Identity #11 - The Myth of Ontological Uniqueness

(World Trade Center Memorial, New York City)

The young man, in his twenties, told me he was a Jesus-follower. I think he was, and anyway, I'm not the ultimate judge of such things.

He struggled with others, and himself. He smiled and said, "The reason people can't deal with me is because they've never met anyone like me before."

I told him I've met many people like him. This upset him. 

He insisted on his ontological uniqueness. This was the heart of his problem; viz., believing he was different, in essence, from anyone else on the planet. 

His false sense of ontological uniqueness isolated him. If there's no one else on earth like you, then you are alone. You are an alien, one of the X-men, and everyone else is a stranger. This is the myth of ontological uniqueness. It was this young man's prison.

Ontological uniqueness is not the same as saying, "No two snowflakes are alike." But of course. And of course they are alike in that they are both snowflakes. My young friend saw all of humanity as snowflakes, except for his own self. If that were true, then community (koinonia; what we have in common) would be impossible. No wonder he felt isolated. No wonder others could not get near to him.

The truth is, the deeper we go inside persons, the more we are all the same. I refer to the elements of our ultimate same-ness as 
"ontological dualities." Everyone struggles with things like Life vs. Death, and Trust vs. Control.

One of Satan's strategies is to persuade us that our sin, our failure, is so horrible that no one could ever relate to it. Thus no one could understand or have compassion towards us. Or, the enemy could persuade us of having an other-worldly giftedness, so we would think we are above all the rest of failing humanity.

The truth is that, in a deep, ontological way, we are "Everyman." Christ died for us all. God became one of us.

That is the cure for our isolation. 

My three books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I'm currently writing:

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Then, the Lord willing, 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I then intend to write our book on Relationships.