Before we are Christians, we have this perspective that the starting point is our Natural Self, and in order to be a good person, we must deny that self some of the bad things it wants and force it do some of the good things it doesn't want, all the while hoping that our Self can still enjoy life and do some of the things it actually wants to do after its obligations to morality are fulfilled. "In fact, we are very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them all right, but he does hope that there will be enough left over for him to live on. Because we are still taking our natural self as the starting point."
This type of thinking will lead to one of two results:
- We simply give up trying to be good altogether because we realize the demand for goodness is always requiring too much of us and is never really satisfied.
- We become very unhappy because we are always 'living for others' but doing so in a discontented, notice-me, grumbling, self-martyring way.
The Christian way offers an alternative that is both harder and easier at the same time...
What God intends for the Christian is not that we keep the grass cut short, but that the whole yard is plowed up and resown with new seed. It is not that we need a fresh coat of paint, but that the whole thing needs to be stained with dye that soaks through to every fiber and changes the color from the inside out. And this won't happen immediately. We take each moment as it comes, making the choice to push the natural self down every step of the way so that the other life (the Christ life) can flow in and through every one of those small actions and little decisions. Then eventually those moments start spreading throughout our whole system and altering the very shape of who we are.
make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose."