Selflessness, the Cutting Edge of True Living


Every human is either evolving or devolving(1). Only the dead are stagnate.

In each moment, you are becoming either more alive or more dead. In fact, in every arena and facet of life, the battle for life and death wages. What are you choosing? Life or death? As the Scriptures urge us, choose life(2).

In life, we're all on what I'd like to call the "Selflessness Continuum." I could also call it the "Interdependency Continuum" or the "Becoming More Childlike Continuum" or the "Becoming More Christlike continuum." Whatever labeling terms you wish to ascribe to the inherently transformative process God offers each of us, they all mean the same thing. Each of us, if we've surrendered to Christ as Lord, are journeying from self-centeredness to selflessness, from dependency through independency to interdependency, from childishness to child likeness, from Adamlikeness (or Evelikeness) to Christlikeness.

I can assure you, where ever you are on the continuum, you can always become more Christlike, more childlike, more interdependent, more selfless. To be selfless is to disregard the self. Not in terms of one's relationship to Almighty God or one's mission, health, or basic needs, but it terms of one's thoughts about oneself as being above those of others. Everyone wants to experience a transformation of being. But very few are willing to pay the price. We want to become different, better versions of ourselves, but many of us give up long before we even begin. I'd like to argue that becoming more selfless is the transformation we all want. To me, growth in selflessness is the cutting edge of life itself. While the transformation of a life-condition (like when we move into a nicer home) or the transformation of a physical-state (like when we eat a satisfying meal) can be good and beneficial, neither offers us a transformation of being. Neither can transform who we are fundamentally. Because genuine transformation (which occurs within the framework of an intimate partnership between God and each of us) requires arduous work, takes a long time, and often involves pain and significant difficulty, many settle for the lesser "transformations" mentioned above. But such temporal changes are just that: Temporary.

To become a more selfless person is to become a more mature, interdependent, childlike, and Christlike person. To become selfless, one must learn to be happy without a reason and to do so simply because being happy is what one chooses in each moment. To become selfless, one must learn to stand on one's own two feet first (independently) and then, from that place of strength, come alongside (interdependently) those still struggling to get to their feet. To become selfless, one must love without keeping tabs on one's so called "loving deeds." In fact, to become selfless, one must forget himself in his doings so that all he remembers is the simple pleasure that comes from loving another person and how much fun he had emptying himself into another.

To aid you in your pursuit of selflessness, provided below are a few attitudes and character habits I think point to genuine selflessness...to genuine Christlikeness. In each of these, we (and I'm at the top of the list, being that I'm the most egregious sinner I know) could all use significant improvement.

A selfless individual...

  • Doesn't have to have a particular thing happen (for example, get THAT job or marry THAT person) to feel like his life will work out.

  • Knows that he's not a light unto himself, and realizes, too, he needs the loving energy of Almighty God to sustain his life and unique personhood.

  • Needs neither notoriety nor to be noticed, esteemed, or, even, recognized by others.

  • Is genuinely happy for and rejoices with a peer when such a one does well on a difficult exam, is promoted, is blessed in ministerial service, lands a fabulous job, wins the heart of the prettiest girl in school, gets into grad school, gets married, has a baby, etc.

  • Prefers to serve rather than to be served and adopts such a posture unassumingly, without presumption, and without announcement.

  • Lends or gives to others without expecting anything in return, including repayment.

  • Is committed to his local community of faith, and values harmony as that community seeks to express the love of God toward each other and toward those outside and not yet a part of the community.

  • Has fun helping others enjoy themselves, discover their dreams, and live-in to their own unique happiness, inviolability, and giftedness.

  • Gives back to God far more than just "the tithe."

  • Listens to the Whispers of God's Spirit, and is available to serve God whenever God says, "It's time..."

  • Doesn't have to be the best, the brightest, the most good looking, or the most talented.

  • Has an almost unquenchable desire to please his Abba-Daddy.

  • Speaks the truth in love, even when doing so might be unpopular or feel uncomfortable.

  • Would choose 100 out of 100 times to be the one stolen from (as opposed to the one who steals from another), even if he were assured of never being caught.

  • Actively embraces a prayerful heart of gratefulness in most situations, and complains rarely, if ever.

  • Is not easily offended.

  • Forgives without so much as a thought because a long time ago he decided to forgive those around him before anything was ever said or done or left unsaid or undone.

  • Is not ashamed of Jesus or the gospel.

  • Is at home with silence, stillness, and solitude.

  • Is an expressive worshiper of God.

  • Recognizes that everyone on earth is in the same boat: that we're all in desperate need of God to do for us that which we can't do for ourselves.

  • Loves purely for the joy of loving others and doesn't consider not being loved in return that big of a deal.

  • Delights in inviting God to be a part of every thought, feeling, word, and action.

  • Always has enough to share with another.

  • Endeavors to do the right thing all the time—especially, when he's alone.

  • Has been thoroughly tamed by God and treats others with the utmost kindness, respect, dignity, and compassion.

  • In the lives of those around him, he sees himself as nothing more than a conduit of God's healing, loving-kindness, joy, compassion, equanimity, and wholeness.

  • Is happy, prayerful, and thankful even when he's feeling sad, tired, or broken.

  • Loves language and words, and feels things intensely, but is surprisingly quick to listen, slow to speak, and slower still to become angry.

  • Listens without interrupting (or without trying to think of what he'd like to say) while another is speaking.

  • Is frugal (yet extremely generous) with his time, money, and resources.

I could go on, but, it's hoped you're getting the picture. To paraphrase something Jesus said, In selflessness, seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and everything else will take care of itself(3).

Notes

  1. Non-Darwinian.

  2. See Dt 30:15-20.

  3. See Mt 6:33.

 

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