instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, August 05, 2005

We aren't about us

Die Fledermaus: I love a woman who dresses in stainless steel.

Jet Valkyrie: You make me sick to my stomach.

Die Fledermaus: Oh, it's always about you, isn't it?

-- "The Tick Vs. The Tick"
My conviction is growing that we'd be better off if we put more effort into seeing that it really isn't about us.

I know, I know, it's very difficult. We're so very wonderful, how can it not be about us? Besides, isn't the Christian Gospel that God loved us so much He had to become one of us, and that He died to save us?

What I'm thinking is, no, not really.

I mean, who says the Christian faith is summed up by John 3:16? Might it not be at least as true to say it's summed up by John 17:4-5:
I glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work that You gave Me to do. Now glorify Me, Father, with You, with the glory that I had with You before the world began.
Do we not think of ourselves as the heroes of Divine Revelation? Yes, Jesus is the hero, but He's one of us, and the heroic thing He did was to save us. As the curtain falls, we are settling into the enjoyment of heaven, while God looks on benevolently.

To hear us tell it, the king's wedding feast is being held in honor of the guests.

But eternal life isn't about us. Creation isn't about us. Even our own salvation isn't about us. We aren't about us.

It's about God. About the Triune God, without whose inter-Personal relationships there could be no personal relationship between God and man.

Consider the source and summit of the Christian life. We speak of the Eucharist as a liturgy we participate in, or a sacrament we receive. In fact, though, the Divine Liturgy is Christ's prayer to the Father, specifically His sacrifice on the Cross. Our involvement amounts to being allowed to join in Christ's prayer and sacrifice, and our joining in adds nothing to Christ's actions. To be sure, Christ gives the Blessed Sacrament is given to His Church, but only because He gives Himself to His Father.

We have an understandably anthrocentric perspective on all this, and perhaps it couldn't be otherwise. Scripture is written from that perspective, but then, it was written by men; and if the subject isn't us, we aren't likely to pay much attention, assuming we can understand it at all. Moreover, the Incarnation means that the anthrocentric perspective is not pure illusion; there is a genuine condescension on God's part in the Son becoming man, which produces a genuine truth to the man-eyed view of God's actions in the world.

But that genuine truth remains a derived truth; the primary truth lies not in Christ's humanity, but in His Divinity. I have a growing suspicion that in recognizing this within our hearts, in making God's perspective our own -- in coming to see that, though we are the narrators of our own stories, we are not the central character -- lies tremendous potential for growth in holiness and wisdom.