The best books, like the best movies, are the ones that get you thinking for yourself. They tell you something about yourself, and the insights become keys that unlock doors to places you've never gone before. They take you beyond where you are.
Here's a book I've just finished reading, one that I highly recommend to one and all: Understanding Who You Are: What Your Relationships Tell You About Yourself. It's a short book by Dr. Larry Crabb, and you can find it at Christian Book Distributors here. A friend gave me his copy, and it was more than I bargained for. In less than 80 pages, Dr. Crabb gives his basic framework for understanding who we are. It's a framework that's in line with Scripture and with real life. Read it, and you'll come to some unsettling truths about yourself.
What is it that really drives us? At heart, what are we really wanting from God? "Depravity" is a word theologians use to describe the effect of Adam's sin on us, and it means a fallenness that has touched every nook and corner of our souls. Dr. Crabb defines "depravity" as selfishness that rules our relationships with people and with God. We want God to make our lives comfortable, not Christlike. In America we can see it clearly when we look at Christian culture. I can see it clearly when I look at myself, too.
Much of what we teach as Scripture, Dr. Crabb contends, bears little resemblance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We take the Bible and work it into this framework of selfishness. We want to control what happens to us in life and we use the Bible as a tool to give us security. One example: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old. . . ." You know the rest of it. God's promise guarantees the outcome, and your kids will be safe because you've done the right thing. (Has anyone besides me noticed this irony: Solomon, the man who wrote that, was trained as a child in the way he should go and, when he was old, he departed from it?)
Here's Dr. Crabb's take: "The principles [God] reveals are given to guide us in our commitment to reflect His character, not to comfortably organize our lives. We are intended to trust the goodness of God, not the reliability of principles" (italics his). And the aim of God is to bring forth Jesus Christ in me. His goodness is about making me like Jesus, and what does not make me like Jesus is not good.
This got me thinking, at some length, about "the goodness of God" and what that really means. I'll blog about that in my next post, sometime in the coming week. But here's a question: What do you make of this? Is Dr. Crabb right to think that depravity is, or at least shows itself most clearly through, selfishness? How much has that selfishness invaded your life? And what do you do to try to avoid the issue?
Once again, I strongly recommend you read this book. It just might change the way you see who you are, and what you were made for. If you are serious about discipling others, you may want to pass this book on to them as well.