Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Addicted to self

Hi friends, sorry I have been away from the blog for so long, I haven’t had much energy for writing the last few months. I was at a seminar a couple months ago where Scot McKnight was one of the speakers, and he made the comment. “you either have time to read good blogs, or write good blogs, but usually not time to do both”. I’m not sure I’ve had the time to do even one.

So anyway... I undertook writing about some of the lessons I have learned or still am learning over the last 18 or so years of being in “ministry” ( Click here to see my list) one of the things that I can count on, on a nearly daily basis is evidence that the concept of original sin is pretty accurate.

Let me back up a little bit. When I was younger I thought that the idea of original sin was that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit off of the tree that God told them not to, and screwed it up for all of us. I kinda had this attitude of “thanks Adam and Eve for condemning us to hell... jerks” There is always that kid that wrecks it for everyone... we are all playing on the playground, and one kid decides to jump off the swings and breaks his leg and now none of us get to use the swings... jerk! Or one idiot burns his crotch with McDonald's coffee in his car, and drives into a light pole. My taxes have to pay for the new light pole and the lawsuit he files against the city, and I have to pay an extra 10 cents for my coffee so McDonald's can print a warning that says ‘WARNING HOT COFFEE - DON'T POUR ON YOUR CROTCH” (actually I rarely buy coffee at McDonald's). In a sense I could kinda transfer my guilt about my spiritual attitudes and short comings onto those jerks Adam and Eve who screwed it up for the rest of us.

I did a simple google search for “Original Sin” (I was a little scared what might come up) and of the “Christian” sites that I came up, the majority of them defined original sin the way I did in the previous paragraph = Adam and Eve screwed it up for us.

I’m not convinced that is the meaning of original sin. In fact I’m positive it is not. If we ad the definite article “the” to the front of it , we could say that Adam and Eve committed “THE original sin” but that's not what original sin is about.

In my readings of historical church writers and thinkers (especially before Augustine - the more I read Augustine the less I value his writings, - I think he got “just war” wrong, and lending money with interest wrong - and his thoughts on original sin in regards to baptized infants WAY wrong ... your milage may vary) the idea of original sin was, that all humans have a basic willingness to do what we want and prioritize our lives around that selfish nature instead of what Gods will is for our actions and lives. If we believe that Adam and Eve were literally the first humans (which is a topic for another blog entry) then they just got to be the first to display their own selfish desires and choose to act on it by doing what God said not to do.

Damnit! Now I can’t transfer my selfishness and lack concern for what God is doing in the world on Adam and Eve! Like many of you I connected with a a book called “Blue Like Jazz” written by fellow Horse Brass Pub patron, Don Miller. Don talks about this idea of original sin in terms of be hopelessly addicted to ourselves. I like using addiction language for original sin. Many of us who have friends and family members who struggle with addictions to substances or behaviors know how powerful the pull and hold on someone can be. Is sin - our willingness to always think in our self interest, our willingness to be anything but last, any different. Without some intervention,an addict will return to the same old playgrounds and continue in destructive cycles. Without Jesus, and without taking him seriously when he talks of sacrifice and servant hood, will we ever break this addiction to ourselves?

The way society looks as sex is affected by it - “they will do it anyway” . I have people who are living on the streets come into my office weekly and sometimes more frequently looking for help. As I hear their stories 99.9% of them find them selves in their situation because of destroyed relationship - with family, with friends ..with everyone and almost every time it is a result of selfishness greed or not being able to see anyone other than themselves. The language of convenience so often dominates our church’s rather than discipleship.

Believe it or not even I have a hard time seeing anything other than my own interests. (I know you are shocked). There are a few people who always seem to get under my skin. Whether it be putting road blocks up to something God is calling our congregation to, or making comments about me personally hedged in jokes or hypothetical situations. I think we all have those kind of people in our lives (Please say you have those people in your lives! I can’t be the only one) I noticed something about my frustration with these people. I often find myself saying it is about the church, or our congregation’s ability to follow God’s call, but really I consider them personal attackers who want to make me less (for lack of a better word). In that attitude my addiction to self grows into full bloom. I have started calling these people to myself “God’s gift to me”. That simple action reminds me of my place and how Gods sees people. I admit sometimes it feels like they are ‘God’s #*^!ing gift to me” but I'm hoping to break the addiction.

Imagine if we could break this addiction to ourselves and and really hear Jesus when he says that the greatest of all the commandments is to love God and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. What would the world look like? What would our neighborhoods look like? Sheesh! What would our churches look like?

My prayer for all of us is that we would, by God’s grace , break this addiction to ourselves that so consumes us all, and truly follow Jesus as disciples!