For those of you following this series, this post piggy-backs off my previous post and echoes in part the theme of an article I wrote earlier this year on the topic of humanism (you can find that article at simplydevoted.net). For those who are just joining, I wrote last week that the mission of following Christ is about building His kingdom and making disciples- not about changing culture or making the world a “better place.” Similarly, today’s post points to this truth: that being a Christian is about being made new in Christ- not about becoming a better version of ourselves.
It has become popular today to uphold the “self” above all things, making the idea of self-improvement the ultimate goal for which we are to strive. Unfortunately, many current Christian teachings have adopted this philosophy as well. We hear this in statements such as “Being a Christian helps you be the best you.” Or, “Being a Christian will make you better at life.” Dear friends, let us guard our hearts and minds against such teachings.
One of my favorite passages in Mere Christianity addresses the heart of what it truly means to be transformed by Christ. I love this description from C.S. Lewis:
“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature.”
When we give our lives to Christ we are made into something new entirely. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The aim of our lives then is not to attain some form of highly sought after self-actualization, but to be conformed to the image of Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This point is made clear in Romans 8:29: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” As Christians we are to look less and less like us and more and more like him.
One more concluding and adjoining thought: The Christian life is about denying ourselves rather than glorifying ourselves. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24). Self denial- the antithesis of self-glorification- is the life to which we are called. To deny ourselves is to surrender the desires of our flesh and to live in obedience to our heavenly Father. While the world encourages us to indulge and promote ourselves, we are to joyfully submit ourselves to the King of Kings, promoting His glory above all else. As John the Baptist so humbly proclaimed, “He must increase, I must decrease,” (John 3:30).
I am so thankful for a triune God who not only saves me from my sin but through whom I am made into a new creation; for this newness far exceeds a “best version” of myself. We have been given this life on earth to live Soli Deo Gloria- for the glory of God alone. May He be glorified in us as we are conformed to the image of His Son.