A journalist once asked Mother Teresa, "What do you think should change in the Church?" She responded by saying, "You and I."
Last week I was sharing with a group of prison inmates what I have observed over the past thirteen years working with addicts and those incarcerated in prison. I said, "My observation is that both groups are selfish and always will do what is to their personal advantage. Prior to ministering to these groups, I pastored churches for over 25 years. I found that they were selfish and would always do what was to their personal advantage."
I was making the point that all of us, because of sin, are selfish, self-centered, and always looking for what benefits us. We are by nature, "takers' not "givers." The root issue, which I dare say is not often addressed in the Church, is that we all have "I" trouble. Greed, lust, pride, contention, addictions, and all other attitudes and sinful behavior are only the outworking of our self-centeredness.
George MacDonald saw this as the "darkness" that mankind dwells in, and Christ came to deliver us from. He listed 12 points of darkness that are revealed by these inward attiudes:
1)I am my own. My own king and my own subject.
2) I am the center from which go out my thoughts.
3) I am the object and the end of my thoughts; back upon me as the alpha and omega of life, my thoughts return.
4) My own glory is and ought to be my chief concern.
5) My ambition, to gather the regards of men to the one center.
6) My pleasure is my pleasure.
7) My kingdom is as many as I can bring to acknowledge my greatness over them.
8) My judgment is the faultless rule of things.
9) My rights are - what I desire.
10) The more I am all in all to myself, the greater I am.
11) The less I acknowledge debt or obligation to another, the more I close my eyes to the fact that I did not make myself; the more self-sufficing I feel or imagine myself - the greater I am.
12) I will be free with the freedom that consists in doing whatever I am inclined to do, from whatever quarter may come my inclination.
Did Jesus come merely to take us to Heaven when we die? Or, did He come, as well, to deliver us from the self-destructive darkness that we live in and bring us into the light?