Mark Galli on the Self

Mark Galli has one of the most interesting and provocative Christian blogs out there. His latest post is about the “spiritual masturbation” of “maximizing your potential.”

This is precisely the spiritual garb that our narcissism wraps itself in these days. We justify this unhealthy focus on the self with God-talk and mission-talk. But in the end, it’s just self-talk that spirals in on itself forever and ever. Amen. Anyone who has seriously examined the self knows that it has about as much potential as a horrid white elephant gift. Good for a few laughs, but not much else.

I’m not saying that, therefore, we should, in the name of humility, abase ourselves and give all the glory to God. Much of the time, when someone says, “It’s not me, it’s the Lord,” it is still very much about the “me,” who is now parading his humility for all to see.

I think the most dangerous spiritual activity is to try to be humble. But the second most dangerous is to maximize your potential. Both are forms of spiritual masturbation. The self is not a gift to polish and put on the mantle of the soul, but something given to be given away, like a white elephant gift that, in the very act of self-giving, God mercifully transforms into something glorious, an oblation of love.

Amen.

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