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The Egocentric Predicament

March 8, 2012

Article by Kelly Kapic.

Who is the center of your life? Is your answer Jesus, or is it your children, your friends, or your spouse? What if I told you that the answer to that question is you? And what if I said that is OK ? Let us be clear: the question is not if you are the center of your universe — you are. This is what philosophers and psychologists sometimes call the egocentric predicament. Put simply, we cannot escape ourselves. Whatever we feel, think, speak, or believe, it is we who are doing the feeling, thinking, speaking,or believing. When we engage God, others, and the world, our reference point or center is inescapably our ego.

Now here is the surprise: we do not need to repent for this kind of “self-centeredness.” Instead, we must recognize how much we are affected by a weak doctrine of creation. To be a creature, including our finitude and particularity, is a gift from God. Trying to “escape” ourselves and to have some other “center” can easily slip into an abstract form of spirituality that undermines our creatureliness. To deny the “I” completely is to cease to exist. Let us be careful of pious-sounding talk that undermines our humanity, for once this happens, all advice about sanctification and dealing with sin becomes skewed and ultimately self-defeating for the Christian. We are not called to apologize for or repent of our humanity.

But there is another kind of “self-centeredness” that is destructive and for which we must certainly repent. This is what we call selfishness. Knowing the difference between creaturely self-centeredness and sinful selfishness can help us grow in grace and truth. And it may lead us to empty the dishwasher for our spouses a little more often.

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