Monday, July 4, 2011

Self

Our world is a place of joy, beauty, love, grace, war, pain, suffering, and selfishness. I want to celebrate all of the good things of this world but I also want to recognize the pain in which we find ourselves. We all want a better world. We all want to contribute to a better world and yet, I am hindered by my own selfishness. I never seek to be selfish. I never feel that I am selfish. But one thing I know is that my heart wants what is good for me. I am not alone in this. Selfishness shows up in so many places in our culture. We see it in road rage and horn honking in traffic. I saw an instance of cycle rage on a leisurely Sunday afternoon in Vancouver where a cyclist was shouting at people to get off the cycle path and onto the walking path. The irony was that the cyclist was yelling at people who were carrying on a conversation in sign-language happily unaware of his rage. Others got angry and shouted insults at the cyclist for his attitude. We see selfishness in a lack of common courtesy and we see it in a general lack of patience with others. I will often disdain others for the very thing that lurks in my heart. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn spoke of this in his book, The Gulag Archipelago.

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Solzhenitsyn knew this well having spent several years in the Soviet work camps known as Gulags. And I too see it around me and in my own heart. My heart needs a renovation. My heart needs the kind of revolution found in these words.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3,4, the Bible (New International Version).
This seems quite impossible of me and my fellow humans. This requires more than you and I are capable of giving. Perhaps that is why it requires help from God. With Him, all things are possible.

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