“My life matters… Not yours!”
This statement will immediately put a lot of backs up, most if not all of us see it as selfish, and out of order.
But here are some other statements, I have read in posts over the past week or so – well-intentioned advice from people to their followers:
“You have to do whatever is best for you.”
“Put yourself first – you deserve the best.”
“Do what makes you happy.”
None of these sound shocking like “My life matters – not yours.”
But are the repercussions of these attitudes much different?
If I put myself first – I am saying that I matter above everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong – I believe we should look after ourselves, and that actually this is part of being a Christian – look back at my devotional about the Sabbath. But I think we’ve lost perspective – as a society but as Christians too.
Take these words from Jesus:
‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)
I have heard a lot on this verse centred on “do you love yourself.” And that is an important question, but in our concern for ourselves we seem to have forgotten that the instruction here is to “love your neighbour.” It’s not about us. We have twisted something outward focused into something inward focused…
By prioritising this God isn’t throwing our mental health in the bin, he’s not disregarding our well-being – in fact he is encouraging us to care for it in a way we seem to have forgotten neglected.
Look at some of the big issues we see around us: Racism, Environmental degradation, modern day slavery, family breakdown… at the centre of all of these and others comes selfishness – Jonty our old youth worker always used to say that at the centre of SIN was ‘I’.
When we are concerned first and foremost with ourselves it doesn’t lead to our wellbeing. Society breaks down, inequality rises, violence rises, hunger rises, hatred rises, purposelessness rises, and as a consequence our mental, physical, spiritual, and social health declines too…
So, if we really do want to become a people that seek to be neighbourly, that promote the common good, a people that work for equity and justice – we need to leave behind the “My life matters most” lie. Which, whether we want to admit it or not seeps through most of the TV series, films, magazines, and social media messages that fill our minds daily – and encourage us to love others only if it fits into loving ourselves – at the detriment of our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the society around us.
Instead we need to pick up our cross daily, and follow Jesus in our relationships with those around us – and seek to proactively love them as we love ourselves, however different and difficult they may be.
Perhaps you would like to spend a moment reflecting on the following passage from Luke 9:23-25 in The Message paraphrased version:
“Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?”