How Should A Christian See Themselves?

What’s the way a Christian should view themselves? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christians are supposed to be people of humility. No disagreement there. The problem is sometimes we think humility means thinking less of yourself and thinking lowly of yourself. It means you can’t accept compliments or praise from other people. This is not humility. If anything, it’s pride. It’s putting an emphasis on yourself really instead of graciously accepting praise. (You can receive praise in an arrogant manner after all.)

Yet the reality is we should not think of ourselves in lowly ways. We should realize the Bible itself really speaks highly of us. Of course, I can’t cover everything, but I will try to hit some highlights. Note I won’t share something if I think it applies specifically to, say, the nation of Israel and not to us.

First off, Genesis 1:26-27 says we’re in the image of God. Now in my view, this is meant to say that we are to represent God on Earth, but whatever view one takes, it’s not a lowly thing. Of everything in creation, only human beings share the image of God. Angels don’t. Other animals don’t. Only us.

Psalm 139 is one of my wife’s favorite passages. Why does the Psalmist praise God? Because he is fearfully and wonderfully made? Wonderful? Yep. You are a wonderful creation. My own wife struggles with a lot of mental illnesses and wonders how I can love someone like that. I tell her consistently I don’t see the illnesses. I know they’re there and I’m not blind to them, but I see her first. As far as I’m concerned, she is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

If we move on to the New Testament, the incarnation itself is a statement about us. God is not ashamed to take on the form of a man. The Son to this day still maintains His humanity. Humanity is not a disgusting and shameful thing.

If anything, Jesus is the only one who is truly human. He is the most normal human being that has ever been. Every other human being is unhuman in some ways, insofar as we are sinners. Jesus had no shame in being a human being and has no shame in it right now.

In speaking of us in the sermon on the mount, He calls us a city on a hill, the light of the world, and the salt of the Earth. We are to be all of that to the world around us. Jesus could have had it be that He would go out into all the world or send angels into all the world. Nope. He trusted the Great Commission to us.

In Luke 12:32, we have one of my favorite passages. “Fear not little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Get that? Not obligation. Not duty. Pleasure. God takes joy in giving us the Kingdom.

If anything, God has no obligations and duties towards us. The only thing God ever owes us really is what He’s already promised us. If we all got what we deserved, well, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now and I’d be in a place of eternal shame and misery. So would you. This should also give us pause with our own enemies at times. We often pray for justice for them and mercy for ourselves. Whatever they have done to us, we have done worse to God.

Jesus also tells us that we are worth more than the sparrows and the flowers and that God knows what we need. He doesn’t promise to give us our wants, but ultimately, we will get what we need. It’s our own fault if we do not trust Him.

Romans 8 is a great passage for Christians to turn to. I have a fear that many of us turn to Romans 7 and read it as autobiography and see ourselves in it. We should really realize that if we want to see what Paul says about us now, it’s in Romans 8. Go through and read the passage. It’s about you.

In 1 Cor. 3, Paul tells the church that they are the temple of God. Think about this. Your bodies are where the Holy Spirit now dwells if you are in Christ. Paul wrote this while the temple was standing. That beautiful massive work that took about 30 acres or more up in Israel was just nice architecture then. The real true temple is you. God has chosen to take up residence in you.

Galatians tells us that we are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. (Or daughters) Do you realize how big a deal adoption is? A reigning Caesar was an adopted son even. God has taken you into His family.

There’s a story that Napoleon was on the battlefield once and his horse ran off. A private ran after the horse, retrieved it, and brought it back. Napoleon looked at him and said, “Thank you, captain.” That men went back to the camp and immediately went into the captain’s quarters and lived like a captain. Napoleon had said he was one. That was good enough.

From the late first to the early second century there was a philosopher named Epictetus. He wasn’t a Christian, but he had a lot of wisdom. One of his favorite of the golden sayings of his that I like is the following, the ninth one.

“If a man could be throughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?”

Seriously. If God says you are His son (or daughter) on what basis do you downplay yourself? Is it a lowly thing to be a child of God? It’s really prideful to try to overrule that with lowly thoughts.

Ephesians 2 tells us that God has already seated us in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. He will have us in His presence for all the ages to show the love He has for us. Get that? God loves us so much that He will take eternity to show us how much He loves us. If it could ever be fully expressed, it’s not much of a love.

Why do spouses pursue and chase after each other? (Or they should.) It is because they can never fully express the love they have for the other. The beautiful thing also about such love is it keeps growing itself. It’s a cycle that the more you do loving things, the more you love. The more you love, the more you do loving things. I love my wife today more than I did when I married her. I hope when we’re together for fifteen years I will say, “Wow. I didn’t have a clue what love was back then compared to what it is now.”

Paul goes on to tell us that we are no longer strangers and aliens, but we are citizens of God’s house. We are fellow citizens with saints. We are not slaves in the household. We are heirs in the household. We aren’t hired hands. We have been asked to live there and it’s not because we provide a service, but because we are wanted.

In Philippians 3, Paul will refer to the people as citizens of the Kingdom. This was said to a colony where everyone was a Roman citizen, the most powerful empire on Earth at the time. That citizenship didn’t matter nearly as much as citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Peter tells us we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. It’s like Peter is trying to lay it on us how much God has done for us. This was to be the case for Israel, but now it’s the case for us.

1 John 3:1 is a very explicit passage. It’s about the love that God has lavished on us that we should be His children, and that is what we are! It’s as if John cannot really believe it or doesn’t really think we’ll believe it, or both. He has to restate it so it will hit home.

All of this and more is what God says of us. If anything, our problem isn’t humility, but pride. We think we know better than God. We think we know who we are and He doesn’t.

How are to respond to this? Think of the way a spouse responds to another. If you respond with arrogance, it’s wrong. When I realize the love my wife has for me, it leaves me in humility. It leaves me amazed that someone like me is loved and it makes me want to be a better man.

God does not love us because we are worthy. He loves us even when we are worthless so that we can be worthy. The lesson of Beauty and the Beast is that you must love something before it becomes lovable. It’s not that we’re so awesome God loves us. It’s that God loves us because He’s so awesome, and that love makes us pretty awesome in the end too.

In the same way a spouse should respond, so should we. I can assure you if I responded to Allie’s love by acting like I was all that, I would be very unlovable. Nothing wrong with confidence. That’s good. Something wrong with inflating your own ego. Graciousness and appreciation is the way to respond.

Christian. You are loved. Have an honest assessment of yourself starting with what is said in Scripture about you. It will help immensely.

Piety and Rationality

Can two normally good things be used in a very bad way? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Spend any time dialoguing on sites like Facebook and such in debate threads and you’ll find out that people often have very strong opinions on matters. Not only do they have strong opinions, they also many times do not have a good basis for those strong opinions. It’s not a Christian or an atheist problem, but it is instead a human problem. Everyone is prone to this.

Last night, this came up in a discussion thread. Someone remarked that while atheists and Christians can both be prone to not doing real research and studying and have an anti-intellectualism, atheists seem to do so while proclaiming themselves the rational ones. It was said that one does not see Christians doing this sort of thing.

If he means Christians normally proclaiming themselves champions of reason, that is often true, but Christians do something similar. For them, it’s more often related to holiness and piety. When a Christian is in a debate with another Christian, and sometimes even a non-Christian, they will fall back on their piety in defense of what they believe.

Francis Beckwith once said that if a Christian can’t beat you with logic, they will trump you with spirituality. If you present a point in a debate that can’t be refuted, you can expect to hear something like this. “Oh. Well, you just need to pray more.” “You just need to ask the Holy Spirit to show you.” “You really need to listen to the voice of God on this matter.” “You must not study your Bible well.”

Now it could be the other person needs to pray more and study their Bible better, but it doesn’t show that they are wrong. The way you show someone wrong is not by saying something about your character or their character (With some granted exceptions of course), but by actually looking at the argument. What data has been presented that is false or misunderstood or what steps in logic are being done wrong?

With atheists, it’s often what I have called atheistic presuppositionalism. An atheist is rational by virtue of being an atheist. They don’t believe in the silly myths that everyone else thinks. If they’re a rational person, their arguments must be rational and their conclusions must be as well. Is it a shock that so many atheists think that they’re brilliant researchers by being in the know on Jesus mythicism? (This is comparable to how Christians think they really know what is going on with the Illuminati and the New World Order and other such things.)

What both sides really need is some intellectual humility. It’s nigh impossible for them to just say that they could be wrong. It’s actually worse than that. It’s nigh impossible to admit that the other side could have a point. Many times, one wants to commit ritual suicide practically before granting that the other person may have a point.

The solution in both cases is the same. Humility. Stop and realize what the other person is really saying. Then go and look at their argument. If they have a flaw that you can see, point it out. If not, then maybe look at yours and see if you have a problem. If you’re unsure, just think about it. It’s okay to leave the conversation and come back later. Be willing to do the research and read both sides. The sad aspect is that both Christians and atheists doing this are both fostering an anti-intellectualism. (And let’s be clear, anti-intellectualism has absolutely no place in a Christian worldview)

I look forward to a day when research is done better on both sides. It’s probably a pipe dream, but maybe it will happen. If you are regularly debating and have never changed your mind on any case and had significant changes to your worldview, you’re not really doing research and study. You’re just setting yourself up as infallible.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Christianity Is Not About You

What is the focus of Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In America, we have entered into a very me-centered time and this has entered into our Christianity. Yesterday, I shared a video with a lady talking about the solar eclipse and all her dreams and everything with it. While she is one who is quite exceptional with thinking these dreams are all from God, she’s the one speaking out the most about so many people who do XYZ because they think God is telling them to do something or God is leading them to do something without any Biblical mandate on seeing if this is how God communicates.

That is a very dangerous place to be because if you think God is telling you something, then you cannot be wrong. How can you listen to possible rebuke and concern? I would hope readers of my blog would recognize I have studied and take what I say seriously by all means, but please do not ever treat me like I cannot be wrong. I most assuredly can be and have been.

Yesterday, my wife also had someone message her about how they thought God had given them some verses for their ministry. The sad reality was that these verses were all about Jesus, except, well, they got a new referent. It’s pretty amazing to see that we can go through the Bible and look for verses that are about us, not in the sense of being a part of the people of God, but that God wrote something for us individually.

This could also be contributing to our marriage problems in our culture today. There are sad times when I think a couple should really divorce, such as when a husband is being abusive and won’t stop, but even then, divorce should be seen as a sad tragedy. It’s a tragedy to think that someone broke a lifelong covenant made before God and man so badly that one person had to leave for their own safety. It’s sad to think someone promised sexual fidelity to one person but gave themselves up to another. That’s all sad.

The saddest part is many times, divorce is not often for those reasons. It’s more being done because the other person isn’t making me happy and doing enough for me. This is a relationship where we are supposed to learn how much we can give for another, and yet we use it just as much to seek our own well-being. Ideally, in marriage, both persons are making sure their spouse’s true needs and desires are being met in a proper way. If that is so, then both people will get what they want.

Suppose one person isn’t doing their part? It’s always amazing that we tend to think that means we don’t have to do ours. God will not hold you accountable for what someone else did or didn’t do. You are held accountable for what you do.

The problem with making ourselves so often the focus is that it’s really hard to get away from that and everything is interpreted about reality through us. That will also downplay the love of God in us. How could God not love us? I mean, we’re just that awesome. Right?

Scripture tells us the opposite. We were the enemies of God. God doesn’t love us just because we’re just so awesome, but because He’s so awesome. Anyone can love someone who’s completely lovable. It’s loving someone who is unlovable that is true love, and we are all many times unlovable.

We all have our own sins and failures. Last night, my wife and I were talking with someone about marriage. One thing I brought up was that my wife and I each have things about each other that we wish the other would work on. I said that if we got these worked out completely and they never came up again, does that mean we’d have a perfect marriage? No. There will always be a new issue. We are all fallen human beings and we will not achieve perfection in this life.

If anything, this should humble us. That means we will always need grace. There will never be a time that we don’t need God. There will never be a time when we earn love and grace. It will always be a gift.

One of the most humbling things I’ve come to realize is that. Aside from what He promised He would do for me in the covenant, God doesn’t owe me anything. If He doesn’t owe me anything, then everything else He gives me is a gift. My spouse is a gift. My income is a gift. My talents and abilities are a gift. The land I live in is a gift. My friends are a gift. My very life and breath is a gift.

Wouldn’t the great tragedy be if I wasn’t thankful for these things? Romans 1 tells us this actually. One of the great sins of mankind is that they did not give thanks to God. They acted like it was something they were, dare I say it, entitled to.

If you are doing a ministry, and much more of it is about you than it is about Jesus, you’re not doing it right. Those of us who are in ministry need to realize that we are not essential. God can get His word out without us and if something happens to us, God’s ministry will still get along just fine. We are not the focal point of the universe.

Live your life then dying to yourself and giving of yourself to those around you. We are all tempted to look out for ourselves, but in the way of the cross that cannot be done. Had Jesus taken that route, you and I would have no hope. We are to continue the ministry of Jesus who gave Himself for the world so that they could come to know God. We must give ourselves to those around us as well.

It’s about Him. It’s not about you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: God With Us

What do I think of Kreider’s book published by P&R? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Scripture we are told that we love because He first loved us. We would not know Him well unless He revealed Himself to us. Probably the person who came the closest without special revelation was Aristotle, and who among us possesses his intellect, his reasoning capability, and the time he had to come to his conclusions, and even then he had a lot of errors in his thinking. Kreider’s book is about how God has revealed Himself to us and in fact how that revelation is actually a condescension on the part of God. God comes in ways that we would not expect a great and powerful king to come.

Basically, you get a walk through the Bible and you get to see how God interacts with His people, which is just fine, and many parts along the way you would not likely have noticed on your own. For instance, consider that the first person God is said to appear to in the Bible is in fact Hagar, who is the slave woman of Abraham. In fact, God had made no promise concerning a child of Hagar and the fact that Hagar got pregnant by Abraham was a way of showing Abraham was trying to take control of the promise of God on His own, and while God owed Hagar nothing, He in fact made a promise to her concerning her offspring and provided for her.

The book goes on through the Biblical story and of course comes to the ultimate form of condescension. In this case, it was that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, in being God by nature, chose to take on the nature of humanity. Other deities could have made appearances as humans in other forms, but the Son of God entered into the full of it even being born in a shameful position, living a shameful life, and dying a shameful death.

Which brings me to what I would say is my only major criticism of the work. I would have liked to have seen more about honor and shame in the Bible as this makes the idea of God’s interactions with us even greater. The Son of God who is worthy of all honor chose to start at the place of lowest honor that He could. Not only that, He died a death that was utterly shameful and would have been met with mockery and derision. Still, this is what God did and that fact should bring us all pause.

The author’s point then for us is that if our God regularly lowered Himself in order to serve us, ought we not do the same for one another? Indeed we should and one of the great problems of the church is we don’t serve. I have told my own wife lately that if you want to see men who are often struggling the most with pride, look no further than the ministry, and I include myself in that number as well. Very few have a servant’s heart any more. We have to constantly remember that we’re here to serve a name and not to make one.

For many, this will be a good reminder on the story of the Bible. For more, hopefully it will be a resource to make you examine your own heart and see if you are living like Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters