Personalization is a defining characteristic of modern Western Culture. Whether it’s your clothes, your car, your social media pages, or even your pets, you can articulate anything in your life to resonate YOU. Uniqueness is a highly valued quality; so much so that the apparel industry is ripe with entrepreneurs looking to sell you whatever it is that you want to be identified by. Shirts, hats, shoes, backpacks, and even socks bear logos or slogans to which your allegiance is sworn and, therefore, must be shared.
It’s not just apparel that we buy, either. With the Internet, you can construct your social circles to be filled with people who think like you and will give you a thumbs up for every picture or status that you post. We can fill our scrolling with articles and web pages that are filled with ads, placed there by algorithms that find similar topics to the ones you are either reading, watching, or buying. We can effectively make everything work for our own perspective, reducing challenge day by day with a simple click of the “block” button or changing the settings on your profile.
However, there is little room for self-consolation in the webbing of the Gospel. If anything, Christ reminds us again and again that He came to save us from ourselves. Without the Spirit of God inside of us, our perspective is permanently anchored in reference to what makes us happy or what does not. We will go to great lengths to satisfy our own desires when viewing life through our own tiny looking glasses and even greater lengths to eliminate that which is displeasurable. Yet John the Baptist summarized the entirety of the Christian existence in a single phrase:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:30 (ESV)
Throughout the Bible, God asks with the desperation of the True Lover for our obedience and faithfulness. Meanwhile, throughout the Bible, we continue to do the complete opposite of that, making our own agenda priority over the reckless love of God. We realize early on in the relationship that what God is doing may not work for us. It has the suspicious likelihood of making us uncomfortable or even requiring us to give up the doing of something pleasant in favor of doing something rather unpleasant (at least for us). In numerous cases through Scripture, the primitive base instinct of self-preservation is challenged headlong, where obedience to God costs someone life itself. When promoting “Something That Will Work For You,” most advertisers will avoid telling you that participating in their product may affect longevity in a negative degree.
Yet God promises that by surrendering ourselves to Him with reckless abandon, we will eat bread that will never leave us hungry, that we will drink water that will never leave us thirsty, that our essence will be filled with such peace and joy that we will soon forget the things we want to work for us in favor of seeking first the things that will work for God. Our priorities shift as the Holy Spirit opens our perspective, giving us access to the knowledge of an all-seeing, all-knowing God in favor of our broken, fractured, severely limited viewpoint. As our forgettable personalities drift more in tune with the Creator’s Purposes, life itself will simply become less of us, and more of Him.