Friday, March 6, 2015

To Thine Own Self be True


I used to belong to a Facebook group organized around issues of ministry.  The people in the group shared prayer requests.  They told stories about situations in their congregation and occasionally asked for guidance with those situations.  And they shared blog posts and news items of interest.

I don’t know how many members the group had when I joined nearly three years ago but it had grown to somewhere over 7,000 today.  A wide range of theological perspectives were represented, nearly all of which grew somewhere on the Christian tree.  And it would be safe to say that if the various theologies were arranged on a Bell curve that the tradition I am a part of, and where I place myself within that tradition, would be between 1 and 2 standard deviations from the mean.  One consequence of my understanding of my theological location within the group was that I learned to pick-and-choose what I posted and what conversations I took part in.  Suffice to say that some conversations could become either quite heated (in a generally respectful way) or just generate so many comments that it was impractical, and nearly impossible, for me to participate in those discussions in a way that was fair to all involved.  So for many threads I would read the initial post, perhaps follow the discussion, but only infrequently join in.

All of which is to set the stage for this event.  Person A posted a brief video of Person B, without making comment on the video and just asking for people's thoughts.  Myself, Person C, watched the video and offered a two-part response.  Part one was my own brief understanding of the issue of the video, followed by my belief of the logical destination of Person B's thoughts would lead.  Enter Person D, who instead of engaging my response, jumped all over me.

So I started to write a response.  This particular person and I have disagreed before and my initial response was to go back to the issue.  I'm not trying to be heroic in describing myself.  It was the issue I was more concerned about than the attack.  But as I worked on phrasing my response it occurred to me that I was spending time, perhaps too much time, on something that really wasn't very important.  I have never studied Shakespeare but the quote of his, "To thine own self be true", started playing in my head.  At first I heard it in regard to responding to Person D.  But then I heard it differently, as some other familiar words went through my head:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Who is the self I should be true to?  The self that quickly responds when provoked by confrontation, be it large or small?  The self that can hardly help but to point out theological error in a diverse group of fairly highly educated people?  Or perhaps the self who is a new creation in Christ?  The self where the old has passed away and the new has come?

That didn't take much time to figure out. 

Christ has claimed me as his own, and he is at work shaping me, and all who call on him in faith, to be more and more in his image, which means being less and less like the person I was before faith. 

So deleted the response I was writing to Person D, and deleted myself from the group.  

"To thine own self be true?"  Yes, but only so far as that self is being shaped in the image of my Savior and Lord. 



Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.