I love to read the pithy sayings on church signs around Charlotte. But I think the best one I have seen is at Grace UMC on Woodlawn Road that reads like this: “EGO stands for Edging God Out.” Our egos are the great challenge in the search for a deeper, truer relationship with God. We don’t get rid of the ego, but we do, as God heals us from the inside out, manage to bring the ego under the aegis or management of the soul. When the ego is in charge of our lives with its “me-first” attitude, with its fears and angers, with its nurturing its hurts from childhood on, and with its attachment to the ways of the world, there is little room for God.
With the ego in charge everything is done on the world’s terms, not the kingdom’s. There is little capacity to love, to honor, to have patience with, to take joy in ourselves or another. The ego in us claims all sorts of things that don’t ring true in how we live or in our state of being. The ego is very good at claiming anything it wants and ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The ego knows little about integrity or love. It can claim for us that we love the Lord(but never listen for his Indwelling Spirit), that we trust him implicitly(but live in anxiety and fear and anger), that we love all other people, “but I don’t have to like them!” I heard a woman in my church a few years back make that statement. That was her ego talking; she was not registering or even knowing that love and liking go hand in hand.
EGO stands for Edging God Out. An ego-driven person can be a faithful church member, do all kinds of “good works,” and look very good on the outside. What the ego carefully hides is the inner condition which belies the outer persona. He doesn’t do the spiritual practices that would tie him to a personal relationship with God. She already knows what she needs to know about being a religious person. Where is the trust in, the dependence on the Spirit of God, on Christ? Where is the deep listening for the “still, small voice of God?” Nowhere to be found, because the ego-driven person can only go so far into the relationship and no farther.
The ego limits the relationship with God to looking good, to being a rule follower, to the surface stuff. Anything deeper would expose the self-driven ego for what it strives to be—the center of the universe.
The journey that we all have to take is to gradually give up all the ego-driven, self-protective walls we have erected that keep other people from knowing all that we are—the good, the bad and the ugly– and at the same time keep God away from our deeper, hurting self. We think that if we keep him out of our guilt and shame, he won’t know who we are.
I’m here to tell you that he already knows. He has already forgiven you. He loves you as you are. You are the one who will not acknowledge all that you are, who will not forgive yourself and who will not love yourself. It’s not about God, it’s about you and your own relationship with yourself.
If you are willing to get over yourself, that is, your ego’s view of yourself, then you gradually will give your whole self up to God so that God can heal you of all the stuff the ego wants to hide. Then, with less and less to protect, the ego gives control over to the soul in order to access its created agenda for your life. Under the soul’s tutelage, the ego learns to see from a broader perspective, to acknowledge that you are lovable, that you can forgive yourself for your sins. We need our egos to act and to be in this world, but we need them to be joined with us expressing our truer, deeper self, our soul, our created purpose in the world.
With the ego and the soul united we are then able to live the truth of Jesus’s Two Great Commandments: to love God with all of ourselves and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I know the difference between my ego and my soul? Have I experienced both within me? Which do I choose to follow? Am I aware of the leadings of the soul? Of the Indwelling Spirit? Do I follow them? Or ignore them?
Blessing for the week: May we acknowledge and follow the leadings of our souls. May we know the voice of the Indwelling Spirit so well that we can no longer ignore it. May we be healed of all the ego’s leanings. May we come to accept, embrace and love all that we are and put that whole self into the service of God.
There is still a problem with the posting of likes and shares and comments to my FB page. If I am not responding to your comment, please know that I am just not seeing it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to answer you. In addition I am on vacation in California last week and this coming week. That has meant that I am not working on “Thy Kingdom Come!” my book. When I get back next week, I will be finishing it and getting it published on Amazon. In the meantime there are two videos up on YouTube about the kingdom at https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=by+the+waters+with+pat+adams.