Monday, April 15, 2013

Self-Acceptance, Worth, Social Approval and Madness

Have you ever attended an I am Perfect rally? I hadn’t, so I went to see what “perfect” looked like. I was informed by a volunteer:

  • This is about the way that society defines and values us according to our performance and appearance – whether we’re too heavy or old or just don’t measure up to the current social standards.
So far, I could endorse her rebellion against these superficial social standards. However, I wanted to take it one step further:

  • I really agree with you, but if it isn’t society that judges a person’s value, where does it come from?
She struggled to come up with an answer. Finally, she responded:

  • Well, we give ourselves our value. That’s what this rally is about. We tell ourselves that we are perfect just the way we are.
Most people in Western cultures would agree. This is something that has been drummed into us as persistently as “you need to do what will make you happy” or “you need to believe in yourself.” However, we are very limited and, rationally, have little basis to believe in ourselves.

I think that this skepticism should also pertain to “I am Perfect.” Are we really perfect? I therefore asked her:

  • How about the serial rapist? Should he regard himself as perfect?
She understood her dilemma. Not everyone is justified in calling themselves “perfect!” Therefore I continued:

  • Who then is justified in calling themselves perfect? If we are honest with ourselves, we are a self-centered and selfish people. I understand that we need to feel good about ourselves, but should we do so by blinding ourselves to who we really are?
I went on to explain that, as a Christian, I now had the courage to face the truth and admit that I am far from perfect, while, at the same time, I am assured that I am totally accepted and loved by my Savior. We need both truths – the bad news and the good news.

However, she stated that she too is a Christian. I therefore asked,

  • How then can you encourage others to say, “I am perfect,” when we really aren’t?
Her answer came surprisingly easy:

  • Christ works for me. I can’t expect everyone else to believe the way I do.
Sadly, for her Christ is no more than a self-help strategy. He is not the Truth. Rather, He – or the belief in Him - is something that merely works like a pill or an exercise routine. He is not a Person but her personal self-improvement technique.

I wanted to ask her that, if Jesus is really the Savior and the only way to the Father, doesn’t she have a responsibility to regard Him as such and to share Him with others? However, she saw where the conversation was going and excused herself. Lord, help us!

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