The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/22

Posted on | March 22, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/22

Scripture reading: Romans 6:1–14

The Problem of “Me”

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself. (Luke 9:23)


Dag Hammarskjøld,  Secretary-General of the United  Nations from 1953 to 1961, was killed along with fifteen others in a plane crash in Africa. The cause of the accident continues to be debated even today, but according to one theory the crash was the result of pilot error. A map pulled from the wreckage of the DC-6 showed that though the crash occurred in Ndola (Zambia), the pilot’s map was opened to Ndolo (Democratic Republic of Congo). Just one letter distinguished the two towns. Because Ndola is 1,000 feet higher in elevation than Ndolo, the pilot assumed he had plenty of airspace beneath him when he hit the ground. When it comes to aviation, being almost right is not enough. So it is with the issue of the “self.” What to do about “me”? If we are using the wrong map, even if our indicators are nearly correct, the results can be disastrous. Throughout history, many have offered various maps to guide us.

Eastern religions would have us use the map of self-annihilation: The problem of the self is solved when you get rid of the self. Nirvana is the place where self is extinguished, absorbed into the cosmic ocean of Being. This is a little like dealing with a headache by cutting off your head! Your headache is gone, but “you” aren’t there to enjoy it.

Modern psychology offers the map of self-acceptance: Think positive thoughts about yourself and esteem yourself. You’re not a bad person, you only think badly about yourself. So love yourself just the way you are. The problem with this map is that when I look inside, I find an inner “me” filled with arrogance, lust, greed, jealousy, hatred and ego-centrism. Am I to accept that?

Social science would tell us to let the map of self-expression guide our lives. Get rid of all those nasty inhibitions and guilt complexes and express yourself—be who you are. Actualize the inner you. But what if the self-wanting expression is a thief, a cheat, an adulterer, a pedophile, or a demon?

Many today, even in the church, live by the darker map of self-contempt. No one needs to convince these people of the evil that lurks deep in their souls. They know too well the depravity in their hearts and, convinced of their worthlessness, they wallow in the pit of self hatred. The main problem with self-contempt is that it leaves self on the throne. Even though I despise myself, it’s still all about me.

Jesus came with a revolutionary message offering a map that no one else had ever used: self-denial. He never told the rich young ruler to accept himself, Peter to esteem himself, or Judas to express himself. Rather he spoke words that for two thousand years have been the only sure guidance for finding spiritual and psycho- logical health. He came not to destroy the self but to save, redeem, and restore it. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:23–24).

If you’ve been encountering a lot of turbulence lately, perhaps you have been using the wrong map. It’s not too late to switch maps and get on course. When you surrender yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then and only then do you solve the problem of “me.”


As the air rushes to a vacuum,

so God fills the soul emptied of self.—Madame Guyon


point to ponder Which map have you been using to deal with your “self”? Has this map been helpful or harmful in helping you reach your destination?

prayer focus Someone you know who has been using the wrong map.


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