The Church vs. Egotistical Self
No matter what you do, no matter how good the plans are, or how astute the theology of the thing is, as soon as God blesses it and it starts to prosper, a group of individuals with their eyes on the main chance will join up with you, and use whatever is happening to their own ends.
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2:19-21).
Graduating from seminary does not mean that you have died to self. Reading massive tomes of theology does not mean you have died to self. Writing a massive tome on the necessity of dying to self does not mean you have died to self. Giving a talk at a conference on the same subject does not mean you have done it . . . it should be so easy (Matt. 16:24).
Not Collectivism Here:
In speaking of the self negatively, I am not talking about the God-given and God-blessed sense of identity that each of us must necessarily have. Neither am I taking a shot at zeal for personal salvation, or for personal holiness.
The Uncrucified Self:
The uncrucified self wants everything to stay put. The self wants predictable arrangements, predictable enough to be able to manipulate. If the self demands to be at the center, it wants to know what the rules are, so that the necessary arrangements can always be made. And—it should be noted—it does not matter if the arrangements came straight from heaven, or were carried down off the mountain by Moses.
Here we go. Given that the Bible teaches us that our worship, our government, our music, and lives should be arranged in a particular way—in photographable ways—and it does, what are the possibilities?
- Lack of external obedience and an uncrucified self;
- External obedience and an uncrucified self;
- Lack of external obedience and a crucified self;
- External obedience and a crucified self.
We always want to reduce these to two options, and there are almost always four of them. Two options allows us to drift into party spirit, and keeping it at four keeps us in a position to pursue catholicity.