self-realization vs Christ-realization
“A saint is not to take the initiative toward self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him……Whatever we may be doing – even eating, drinking, or washing disciples’ feet – we have to take the initiative of realizing and recognizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized His relationship to the Father even in the most menial task. “Jesus, knowing…that He had come from God and was going to God…took a towel…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13: 3-5)…I am not here for self-actualization, but to know Jesus Christ. In Christian work our initiative and motivation are too often simply the result of realizing that there is work to be done and that we must do it. Yet that is never the attitude of a spiritually vigorous saint. His aim is to achieve the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances.”
(excerpt from Oswald Chamber’s ‘My utmost for His Highest’, July 11 entry)
I read this devotional on my way to work this morning. Prior to that, I was talking to God about an incident on the bus yesterday. Two Mandarin-speaking students got on the bus and asked the driver for confirmation of the bus route but they weren’t understood as they spoke in limited English. So they sat down in the seat in front of me and I could overhear them wondering if they were on the right bus. One of them then turned to an Aussie lady sitting in front of them and asked again but again, they weren’t understood. I wondered then if I should tap them on the shoulder and see how I could help. And before I knew it, it was my stop. So I got up and alighted. Immediately, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my reluctance to help them in the first instance. Honestly, even if I had missed my stop from helping the Chinese students, I could still get to work on time as the next stop was actually the terminal and I could walk to my office from there.
So this morning, I asked God for forgiveness. I had sinned and was reminded of that through James 4: 17, ” “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” And reading Oswald Chamber’s passage this morning, I saw the pettiness and ugliness of my human heart. I had failed to realize Christ in that situation with the Chinese students. If Jesus were sitting behind them on the bus yesterday morning, he’d have done something.
What a sobering lesson and how true these words are in Jeremiah 17: 9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” As I reflected upon this morning’s reading, I realized that I could never fully understand myself with my own understanding. You see, when I try to do that, I either end up with too high or too low a view of myself. Or I usually turn to my close friends and ask for their opinions of me.
So this morning, I found myself asking: Have I ever asked God what he thought about me and my actions sometimes? I think what I learned this morning is that perhaps the only true measure of who we are can only be seen through the eyes of Jesus. He alone can show us who we really are on the inside. So, you want to know yourself better? Ask Him. And you may be in for a few surprises…