I hope you’re okay with transparency – because I have determined that my life be an open book to be shared with the world. A while ago, I had a dream where I called up a random guy that I knew. The phone conversation started out normal but then I began talking to him in a flirtatious way, and I began to feel confused and uncomfortable at the way I was speaking. “What am I even saying? I don’t want to be saying this!” I said to myself.
The next thing I remember is feeling myself dissociate from the person talking on the phone, wondering how I had suddenly lost control of what “I” seemed to be saying to this guy. Soon “my” voice grew to be seductive and “I” invited him to come hang out with me alone. At this point, I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin that I literally rose up and out of this imposter who continued to seduce this man on the phone without my consent or will. It was as if I had split into two entirely different people. It was clear that this conscience was my “spirit-self” and it was pulling away from my “flesh-self” who had seized control of my voice and body. But as my spirit left, I remember it saying to my flesh, “The only reason you are who you are is because of me… Good luck without me!”
At that moment, the scene changed and I found myself in a room where the flesh version of me walked in with messy hair and tear-stained eyes. I had no idea what happened after I deserted my flesh-self, but I could tell that it did not end well. My eyes became fixated on this bleary-eyed girl who looked exactly like me and yet was acting completely apart from my will or consent. As my gaze met hers, I saw her hang her head down in shame. I immediately felt compassion for her – this headstrong girl who earlier had so stubbornly taken control of “our” body, acting and speaking however she pleased, could not even lift her head to look at me in the eyes.
In that moment, I knew she had truly repented for her actions. So I walked across the room and allowed myself to become joined to her once again, knowing I would have to deal with whatever consequences her impropriety had caused “us.” Moments later I woke up, but the dream stayed imprinted in my memory.
How many of you – after engaging in some sinful, twisted, wrathful, addictive, or unhealthy thought or action – have later looked at yourself in the mirror and asked the question “Who are you?” with a measure of hateful disgust? There is a sense of dissociation that occurs within us when we feel a division between the person we know we want to be and the person that seems to have its own agenda and will apart from our own. This brought to mind the following passage:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members… So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Romans 7:20-23
Since then, I have come to understand something about sin that I didn’t necessarily realize before… That is simply that sin comes most alive when our eyes are fixated on ourselves. Consider what happened immediately after the original sin: “… Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” The thing to realize here is that the very first thing Adam and Eve noticed with their newly “opened” eyes was……… wait for it……..
If you think about it, the immediate effects of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could have been anything – the desire to control God’s creation, the impulse to hurt each other, the urge to lie, cheat, steal, fight, destroy, or any number of other sinful acts. Those things, of course, would come later. But what came in that very moment was a new kind of SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS that was not present before. It was not as if they suddenly realized who they were or who created them or why they were created, because they knew all of that before. Instead, there was a brand new self-awareness that would eventually open the door to every other negative consequence of their sinful nature.
There they were, staring down at their naked bodies for what felt like the first time. Then, and only then, did they feel the need to do something with themselves. They took it upon themselves to ‘take care of the situation’ by making a covering for their most vulnerable parts (which, by the way, who told them that the loin area was their most intimate part?)… All of a sudden, they saw their own flesh as some proprietary thing – a sudden burden that they must do something about, something they must take into their own hands. Before that time, they were blissfully ignorant to the “burden” of being consciously aware of their own naked state.
It is this kind of self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-focused “proprietary ownership” of our own bodies that provides the underlying framework for the entitlement mindset. The only antidote to this mindset is for us to take our eyes off of ourselves, to stop thinking of our fleshly bodies as some thing which belongs to us and instead continually recognize that we do not belong to ourselves and that the One to whom we DO belong has a glory and a purpose that is far greater and more profound than our paltry grasp of our own self-conscious existence.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20