The keys have been dropped. Freedom is here.


Bring Your Nothing

Posted on November 10, 2014 at 9:00 AM

I have a pretty basic" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">digital bio: husband, father, friend, pastor, and self proclaimed nerd. But, I often wonder how well I know myself and tend to think that I don’t. Maybe it’s a mid-30’s-life-crisis. Or perhaps it’s a result of living inadvertently under a digital screen where I’m thinking only 140 characters at a time. I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that who I really am is not the tightly worded or perfectly angled person I tend to “display” to the world. If I’m honest, who I think I am--my identity--is usually a victim of the ebbing and flowing, rising and diving, twisting and dodging of the obstacles in my daily path; this makes me usually at war with myself. Who am I really? Most the time I don’t know; who usually wins is the puffed up version of myself: tooting my own horn for others to hear.

Maybe you’ve been here with me or maybe not; if so, it’s because we’ve forgotten who we are.

Do You Know Yourself?

What if I told you that I think Madonna has a better sense knowing who she is than we most likely do?

In her 1991 interview with Vanity Fair, Madonna admitted,

“My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become somebody, I still have to prove that somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.”

Like Madonna, we have a horrible fear of being mediocre, too. Madonna knows herself well and she’s not afraid to admit this. The question is, do we?

It’s Not Our Feelings, It’s Our Ego

We don’t want to be mediocre parents, mediocre teachers, mediocre pastors, or mediocre friends. So, if you’re like me, we tend to say and do things that will cause us to gain the credibility we want. We want to feed our ego. Often, it’s our egos that are hurt more than our feelings when we fail to measure up in public or in private. Tim Keller explains this reality in his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfullness:

“The ego often hurts. That’s because it has something incredibly wrong with it. Something unbelievably wrong with it. It is always drawing attention to itself – it does so every single day. It is always making us think about how we look and how we are treated…It is the ego that hurts – my sense of self, my identity. Our feelings are fine! It is my ego that hurts” (16).

I often hear pastors say, “I’ve been doing ministry for a long time.” Or, I hear parents say, “I’ve got four kids.” What I hear when I hear these statements is the ego validating and justifying itself ("trust me, I know what I'm doing!"), trying to cover up what is misplaced: our identity. We’re all prone to puff ourselves up or even toot our own horn for the sake of keeping our ego intact and our sense of self feeling good. It’s our reputation or our credibility that’s at stake, right? That’s how we feel. But, really, it’s our pride.

Keller says pride “is the pleasure of being more than the next person.” And that is exactly our problem.

Transformed and Redefined

In 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, Paul describes a transformed view of self.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

He sees self-worth and self-regard and identity wrapped in the gospel. It’s the gospel that redefines, recreates, and revalidates ones identity in the work of Another. We have a new transformed self, forever changed. But we tend to forget this, and we get caught up in the battle waging between our normal view of self and our transformed view of self. Thus, we need to continually hear the gospel: “You’ve got nothing. You’ve earned nothing. All you have and all you are is because you are loved beyond measure.

We Brought Nothing, God Brings Everything!

In a song by Shane & Shane, Bring Your Nothing, they sing:

“I’ll bring nothing

You bring everything

How could it be?”

In God’s everything is the love he has for his Son, in whom your life is now hidden (Col. 3:3). The Son whom has been “appointed the heir of all things” (Heb 1:2), and “has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3), has already given you everything when you have nothing to offer. God’s everything is God’s love and we have it. In her book, Exploring Grace Together, Jessica Thompson writes,

“You can smile in your heart, knowing that the most important thing about you isn’t how you play baseball or any sport. The most important thing about you is God’s love for you. You can smile because that will always be yours” (112).

And we smile because His love is forever (Ps. 136). We are given everything when we have nothing. Because of His Love we are free from having to chase credibility or from tooting our horns. What we are and who we are has nothing to do with us any longer. Our “pat-on-the-back-achievements” or our “hide-in-the-closet-failures” don’t define us. Instead, we are now anchored in the One who claimed us, died for us, loved us, hid us within Himself, and freed us from ourselves.

“See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

This post was written by Jeff Block.

Categories: Guest Contributors

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