This weeks "thought" comes from http://redeemer.com/ or another phenomenal site: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/), in his book: The Reason for God. Keller is by far my favorite contemporary preacher. His messages are always insightful, challenging and filled with the Gospel. (You can access them on line at:
This thought has to do with what we base our value in. It's a small piece from a book well worth your reading! Enjoy.
"Everyone gets their identity, their sense of being distinct and valuable, from somewhere or something. asserts that were made not only to believe in God in some general way, but to love him supremely, center their lives on him above anything else, and build their very identities on him. Anything other than this is sin.
Most people think of sin primarily as 'breaking divine rules,' but Kierkegaard knows that the very first of the is to 'have no other gods before me.' So, according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship with God.
In the movie Rocky, the title character's girlfriend asks him why it is so important for him to 'go the distance' in the boxing match. 'Then I'll know I'm not a bum,' he replies. In the movie Chariots of Fire one of the main characters explains why he works so hard at running the hundred-yard dash for the Olympics. He says that when each race begins, 'I have ten lonely seconds to justify my existence.' Both of these men looked to athletic achievement as the defining force that gave meaning to their lives... Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially 'deify."
Then after showing how people look to work or career or romance or people for their sense of self, he says (quoting Ernest Becker):
"'But all this only sets the stage for continual disappointment: No human relationship can bear this burden of godhood... If your partner is your 'All' then any shortcoming in him becomes a major threat to you... What is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to this position? We want to be rid of... our feeling of nothingness... to know our existence has not been in vain. We want redemption --nothing less. Needless to say, humans cannot give this.'
This is exactly Kierkegaard's point. Every person must find some way to 'justify their existence,' and stave off the universal fear that they're 'a bum.' In more traditional cultures, the sense of worth and identity comes from fulfilling duties to family and giving service to society. In our contemporary individualistic culture, we tend to look to our achievements, our social status, our talents, or our love relationships. There are an infinite variety of identity bases. Some get their sense of 'self' from gaining and wielding power, others from human approval, others from self-discipline and control. But everyone is building their identity on something... Only if your identity is built on God and his love, says Kierkegaard, can you have a self that can venture anything, face anything. There is no way to avoid this insecurity outside of God... An identity not based on God also leads to deep forms of addiction... A life not centered on God leads to emptiness..."
If you're looking for a good read or an insightful explanation of our contemporary cultural situation, this book is a good start!
Dr. Jeffrey F. Evans