Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Autonomy?

Some conversations are silly.

"Where do you want to eat?" "I don't know, where do YOU want to eat?" "I want to eat wherever YOU want to eat!" "I don't want to decide - YOU decide." "No, I asked you first. YOU decide." "OK, how about Denny's?" "No, I don't feel like Denny's today." "OK, where DO you want to go?"

We all have rebellion boiling in our hearts and it manifests itself in some peculiar ways. We want to control things even by NOT making a decision about where to eat.

The problem starts with our presumption of autonomy. We would like to rule ourselves. "My will be done," is our default credo. We want to gratify our own desires for pleasure and glory. We want what we want and we want it now. We want to be recognized and praised. We refuse to be controlled. We don't even want to be influenced.

As soon as we can talk we learn to say, "No!" and "I'll do it myself!" We become more subtle in expressing these ideas as we get older, but our hearts are still crying out, "NO! I'LL DO IT MYSELF!"

So, we spend money we don't have or become fanatical about saving. We refuse to exercise - or become obsessive about exercise. We binge on junk food, or we become health food gurus. I wonder if all of our dysfunction and addiction and neurosis could be traced back to this essential problem - the desire for autonomy. "I want to be in control - even if it leads me to self destruction."

I want to clean up my space in the house, but I bristle with resentment if my wife suggests that I should clean up my space in the house. "I'll do it myself!" I don't even like it when I tell myself to do something - so I procrastinate. I'm too tired, too busy, and have too many other priorities. "NO!"

It is all rebellion. Why can't I just submit to the plain truth and do what I ought to do - for the relief of everyone including myself?

It is a spiritual problem of pride. Ultimately I need to submit to God and realize that my life is not about me being in control and doing what I want. God is the Authority. God is the Judge. God is the Savior.

When I submit to God I can let go of my obsessions and resist the temptations to serve myself. When I submit to God and recognize my complete dependence on Him, I have no worries about my inability to control my world. Then I can focus on being a godly man - doing what pleases God. Then I can relate to other people without a contest of status or wills.
(James 4:6-8) ¶ But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
7 ¶ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

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