Self-centered spirituality

Our spirituality goes haywire when it starts with self, not God.
When personal responsibility replaces personal response to God.
Or when we talk about gaining virtue in the same way that we might talk about chiseling our biceps or perfecting our tennis serve. 

Fundamentally, I’d say it’s a human temptation. But our achievement-based US culture only fuels the flames of this sentiment. 

A lot of us (not just religious or spiritual people) seem to think that personal discipline can mold a perfect self. 

But the emphasis is bass-ackwards (as one might say).
It’s on what I’m doing, not what God is doing. 

It’s on what my feeble ego is up to,
not what the divine is up to. 

If it’s all about me pulling my own spiritual bootstraps, where does that leave God? God is then relegated to the role of a passive helicopter parent who might high-five us when we show up to practice.

But sooner or later, it happens...

We hit the wall of our inadequacy and insufficiency. 

All of that self-esteem we mustered up has come to a screeching halt. Those bootstraps have ripped in half and all of our hustle is for naught. 

We see that we can’t add even a centimeter to our spiritual stature. Despair becomes our unwelcome companion and life loses its luster. 

Those who’ve lived long enough and fully enough know the stark reality of this. 

This is the reality that the gospel must address.
The false egoic self that thinks it can play God must run its course.
It must come to the end of its so-called virtuous ways and run out of options
before we can be turned to God in wholehearted surrender
where power is found in our receptivity
to the living Word that creates worlds
and loves us back to life in the midst of our despair.