A new episode is live! This week we’re talking with @sharonhmiller about the message “this is me”.
The “this is me” message has become popular in recent years and says that we are free to create our identity based on our feelings and desires, which should be unquestionably accepted by others. But, fundamentally, this message tells women to rely on themselves and their knowledge of themselves, instead of God’s, which included it in our season of the Self Esteem Gospel. Sharon and I talk about how our identity is actually rooted in Christ, not our desires, which will only lead to an identity on a faltering foundation of self.
Throughout this episode, Sharon reminds us that freedom isn’t found in freedom from all external and internal expectations, or in creating our own identity, but in Christ alone.
Here are some of the questions Sharon and I talked about during the show:
- The entire season of this podcast is dedicated to the Self Esteem Gospel, or messages that point people to themselves and their power instead of Christ. This episode explores the cultural message “This Is Me”. Can you explain to us what’s at the core of the “This Is Me” message, and how does it promise us freedom and happiness?
- Our culture tells us that to find happiness and contentment we need to do things like find our most authentic self. While finding our authentic self isn’t a bad thing, how does too much self-focus actually lead to insecurity and lack of joy?
- What are some symptoms of a too self-focused life?
- Our culture often views the cure of self-focused insecurity to be self-focused praise. Self-focused praise then can turn into boldly proclaiming an identity in an attempt to ward off insecurity. Why is self-focused praise not the solution to insecurity, and what is?
- We are all created as unique people with our own identity, but our identity is found differently than how our culture tells us. What is the difference between culture’s definition of your most “authentic self” and the Gospel’s?
- The “This Is Me” message declares an identity that others are meant to accept. Can you explain how the Gospel does the opposite, declaring a unique identity over us and gently guiding us into being who God created us to be?
- How does creating our own identity based on our feelings and desires make self an idol?
- Why should we look to Christ to find our identity instead of creating one for ourselves based on our feelings and desires, and how do we do that?
- Our culture sees submitting our identities to Christ as oppressive and says that focusing on ourselves is the way to happiness. Why is submitting our identities to Christ actually the way to freedom and joy?
- In Bridgetown Church’s podcast, John Mark Comer references that Freud believed that: “When someone says no to you, your “authentic self,” that’s what makes you unhappy.” This view has been widely adopted by our culture, seeming to almost boom in the last decade. But the Gospel has said the exact opposite from day one.
Resources recommended during the show:
John Tyson, Church of the City
Charles Taylor, A Secular Age “One of the most important books of our generation”
This Cultural Moment, Secular Salvation Schema
Favorite quotes from this episode:
“God responds to our limitations with affirmations of himself”
Knowing who you are and being yourself is not a bad thing. For a lot of us, really when we come to know Jesus, there is a season of rebuilding, of acquiring the self that is necessary. We become more ourselves when we become more like Jesus.”
“Of course we should be authentic, we should be real people. We shouldn’t be fake, we shouldn’t put on false appearances. But, any good thing, when it becomes an ultimate thing, it becomes an idol. And that is what is happening here, is the authentic self has become an ultimate thing in our culture.
Because of that, it gives all these promises that it can’t actually deliver on. All the freedom, all the peace, we think will find in ourselves, just isn’t there. A part of the reason why is that identity is an ever-shifting thing….When we sort of set our feet on identity as if its the solid thing that we can stand on, that if we can just get to the bottom of it and figure out who we are, it will be our security, we discover it’s not secure because it’s constantly changing. The only truly secure thing is not our identity but Christ’s identity.”
“When you’re so focused, you make everything about you. Everything is kind of a referendum on you. You just assume everything that happens that is awkward or difficult or uncomfortable is a reflection on you in some way.
Self-preoccupation raises the stakes extremely high for yo. It tends to make you the center and the hero of your story, which is a ton of pressure. And it also just means that you’re constantly proving yourself. If that is the source of your insecurity, but you address it as if your problem is low self-esteem by just speaking affirmation over yourself, even biblical affirmation, what you’re doing is reinforcing the problem instead of correcting it.
Even though I was speaking biblical truth over myself, the reality was I believed all those things. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, I believed them. My problem wasn’t low self-esteem, the problem was that I was focused on myself. It wasn’t until I let go of that and let go of caring what people thought of me that I really was free.”
“We even say, ‘and don’t let anyone ever tell you what you can or cannot be. Don’t let anyone lay claim to who you are.’ Which is so fundamentally opposed to the Christian vision where we are called to pursue Jesus in community and to submit ourselves to one another.”
“When people are talking about their stories of their abuse, and they say “this is my truth”, I want to say: sister, it’s not “your truth” its THE truth. What that person did to you is real and it happened and that matters. It’s not just your opinion.”
“With this hyper-individualism, where we don’t allow anyone to speak into our lives. Whereas the Christian vision of identity is one that is rooted in community, that we cannot grow, we will not grow, if we do not allow people to speak into our lives.”