I read a book recently where the author suggested that our basic nature was goodness and life-giving. We were part of a great good consciousness into which we would be absorbed. She claimed if we would just listen to our better self, we would drop destructive habits, transform our lives, and be nicer to other people. The voice in our head that prompted us to do wrong? It was not part of our identity. (She didn't say where that voice came from.)
While I wish that was true, I have raised children who taught me otherwise - and I remember my own disobediences as a child. I certainly did not have pure impulses towards my brothers when they crossed me. I'd as soon smack one of them as play with them. I'd run away, grasping my toys in my hands to prevent someone else from playing with "my stuff." I was hot-tempered and willful. (I see the same awful traits in my beloved and wonderful grandchildren.)
Why does a child instinctively protect her / his own interests? Our selfishness is inborn.
As we grow up, we become masters at hiding, of reinventing our circumstances to make ourselves look good - smarter than we are, happier, and better. We erect white-washed facades to keep others from knowing our faults. From behind our masks, we wonder who we really are.
But God knows our hearts. Seeing the depths of our brokenness, the ruins of self-aggrandization, and the desire to control and conquer, he still loves us and calls us to be reconciled to him: Pure Goodness, Light, Life-giving Wholeness. He even came among us to model true humanity and kindness. (Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for four accounts of Good News - God with us.)
When we say God is All-Great / Good / Holy, we acknowledge his perfection and our imperfections. Therefore, true worship is the great privilege of telling the Truth. Worship may be the only time we completely set aside our own interests and greed.
Indeed, worship is God's loving gift to us, always available on the tip of our tongues when we are tired of living a lie.
*There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you. 1 Samuel 2:2 ESV
*To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17 ESV
*Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:1-4 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Can we live our lives without you, Lord? Never are we without you, though we may wish to dismiss you. Thank you, Lord, for never giving up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. Our lives belong to you, Jesus! Use us as you will. Amen.