The Most Important Thing

What is the most important thing for your existence?  In seeking to answer such a question, most Christians would say …. “Finding God, Knowing God, Loving God, or Serving God.” Others might give an answer about connecting to Christ‘s body, the Church or mention relationship with others. But very few would make any reference to Self or Knowing Self.

We are taught to deny self, to forget Self, even to put self last. Many, including myself, have taught that if you want J-O-Y, you must live a life with the following priorities in this order: Jesus first, Others second and You last. To say that we need to Know Self sounds liberal, new age or like pop psychology. But the ignoring of Knowing Self has cost us dearly.

I confess that in my years in the ministry of helping people grow spiritually, I have focused almost exclusively on helping people Know God and have spent little time helping them Know Self.  But I have discovered that there is a strong interconnectedness and an interdependence between the Knowing of God and the Knowing of Self. (Knowing Self in God).

Thomas Merton (d.1968),  a trappist monk from the Abbey of Gethsami in Kentucky who has been widely read by evangelicals answers the question from above, “What is the most important thing for our existence?” He says:

There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.”

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2 comments

  1. Brian Owen

    Great thoughts here John. Couldn’t agree more. I wonder if my past tendency to focus on knowlege of God at the expense of knowledge of self was out of a fear that what I would discover would be too terrifying. It seemed easier to ignore that which I did not have much courage to face.

    Sadly, I failed to understand that the Spirit of God already knew me better than I knew myself and that He was waiting for me in the places that I did not want to go. I’m learning that the things I refuse to face in myself will have great power over me. But once I face them, they weaken and wither. That’s why I think that it’s vital to purse knowledge of self as much as I pursue knowledge of God.

    • johnestorge

      Brian,
      I appreciate the comments. I think you’re right. We’re afraid of what we might find so we just “don’t go there.” But I also think that we’ve had bad teaching. Evangelicals teach that we are to forget about ourselves and focus on the advancement of the gospel and Reformed folks teach that apart from meditating on God’s glory, we are only to think of ourselves categorically as a generalized totally depraved sinner while ignoring anything specific about ourselves. Evangelicals say, “you’re selfish if you even think about self.” Reformed people say, “you’re just generally bad.” Neither of these teachings help us to see ourselves for who we really are and bring the True Self into the presence of God so he can be soaked in the gospel.

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