Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why I Am the Way I Am?

Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are? What is it that stirs us to help when we see the elderly woman struggling to get across the street? On the other hand, what can explain the dark places of the mind where thoughts arise such that we wouldn't dare voice aloud?

For many, sin or as Nyanteh may call it 'bad acts' is a ridiculously ancient concept; the fallen nature of mankind, a snobbish notion used by the church to keep its doors open for business. But can we deny that there is a certain duality within our nature? As Winston Churchill once said, "We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm." On the one hand, we seek what is noble, on the other, we struggle with what we know is not. Bravery, compassion, and generosity are traits universally valued. And yet, greed, lust, and pride linger regardless of religion, culture, or worldview. How do we explain this?

The great 17th century philosopher-scientist Blaise Pascal saw an immensurable need for man to understand his nature; to ask ourselves the question, "Why am I the way I am?" And he offered pointed words for those standing content with the inconsistent philosophy that man is the measure of all things. Says Pascal: "It is in vain, oh men, that you seek within yourselves the cure for all your miseries. All your insight has led to the knowledge that it is not in yourselves that you discover the true and the good. The philosophers promised them to you, but they were not able to keep that promise. They do not know what your nature is. How should they have provided you with a cure for ills which they have not even understood? Your principle maladies are pride, which cuts you off from God, and sensuality, which binds you to the earth."

It is in vain that we seek within ourselves a cure. No matter how good a person is, no matter how noble and courageous and generous we might become, we are aware that there is a standard we haven't yet reached, and in fact, cannot reach. Though we seek and strive for glory, we are still aware that we have somehow missed the mark. In the Gospels we learn that John the Baptist was called greater than the earlier prophets, because he proclaimed a fuller message. And yet, his testimony in a few words expressed what we know intuitively of our own lives, "I am not the Christ," said John. I am not the standard, but I know the One who is. To write the concept of sin out of our lives is to write away our ability to know who we are, to understand why I am the way I am, and to know personally the One who comes to set us free.

Hobart Mowrer,a renowned professor of psychology, one time president of the American Psychological Association, once made a statement . He observed, "For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch making. But at length we have discovered that to be free in this sense, that is, to have the excuse of being sick rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost… In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood and identity, and with neurotics, themselves, we find ourselves asking, "Who am I, what is my deepest destiny, what does living mean?"

John the Baptist pointed the crowds to the One who not only fulfilled all of Scripture, but came to tell us what living means. In the fullness of time, in a real moment of history, Christ came down to be with us, One greater than Moses, One greater than your sin and mine. And until,we come to this truth,we'll continue as the group Illdisposed wrote "I Believe in Me".