Ministering to the Existentially Obsessed

Genesis 1:27 (HCSB)
“So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.”

The craze in the media lately is the topic of self-declared identity. We are being bombarded with stories of individuals who are in complete denial of who they are, who then make up new identities for themselves, and then accuse those who refuse to join them in their charade of being judgmental for not embracing their self-declared identity. The best word to describe such individuals is “pathetic.”

It’s unfortunate that this term has developed a negative connotation, because I am not using the term to describe such individuals in a derogatory sense whatsoever. When I use the term, what I am conveying is that I have a tremendous empathy for them. What I see are individuals who are screaming for the need to be assured that they matter…

According the Bible… they do matter.

They matter because they are image bearers of God. What such individuals do not need is an affirmation of their self-deception. What they need… is the Gospel.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. I was always taught that I could be whatever I wanted to be. Deep down inside, however, I always sensed that this was a ridiculous notion. This insight was affirmed as I grew into adulthood. I’m 6-feet, 3-inches tall. That means that, no matter how hard I might have tried, I could have never been a jockey. However, from what the media seems to be promoting as of late, all I need to do is to just self-declare my identity, irrespective of my God given physical attributes, and voilà… I’m a jockey!

The sad thing is, it’s my generation, who was first trained to think that we are who we are because we simply declare who we are; who has given birth to the generation whom I am describing as the “existentially obsessed.” What we have raised is a generation which obsessively overemphasizes the determining of its own identity through their own declaration; through their own acts of their own will. In other words, we have (in general) trained this generation, our children, to ignore the obvious, to ignore God and His will, and then replace it with whatever they subjectively deem to be actual; while then encouraging them to take it a step further by accusing the sober-minded of “hate” when challenged. It’s pitiful (pathetic). It really is. It’s pathetic to lead a life of self-denial, suppressing what everyone else around us knows to be true about us, yet still vehemently declaring to those around us that the obviousness regarding ourselves… is not obvious.

When we (man) deny who we truly are, we sin. In doing so, we are basically saying to God that we are not whom He had intended us to be, while at the same time, denying what we have become in doing so… sinners.

Paul spells this out as an encouraging reminder, in his letter to the Ephesian brethren, as to what they once were, but now are not, because of what Christ has done for them:

Ephesians 4:17-24 (HCSB)
“…I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

The Christian recognizes who they once were and now trust in the Messiah. The Christian understands that it is only possible to put on the “new self” after taking off their “former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires,” because they are “being renewed in the spirit” of their minds. The non-Christian does the opposite. They attempt to make up the self.

So, how do we (Christians) minister to the “Existentially Obsessed”? How do we minister to those who vehemently impart their own subjective meaning to themselves?

According to Paul, we are to expose them and point them to Christ…

Ephesians 5:6-14 (HCSB)
“Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.

Godspeed, to the brethren!