It seems to me that I spend an awful lot of time with my self. All of it in fact. Got me to thinking about my self. After all, I am an astounding, amazingly marvelous being!
But that's nothing. So are you!
Self-ness is an awareness of one's self, an awareness of being a being, of being a separate being from all other beings.
Where does this awareness of self come from and what does it mean? I don't know that I can answer, because I do not fully know. Even though I have given it much thought.
Scripture says that Gods (plural, Elohim) said to themselves, "Let Us make man in Our Own Image." Looking at yourself, try to determine just what it is about you that God made in His image. Try to imagine it.
Begin first with where God is. Where is He? If He is in this world, surely man would have found Him by this time. Is He in our Solar System? Our Milky Way Galaxy? Our corner of the Universe? In the Universe at all? The answer is, of course, "Well, 'yes' and 'no."
Yes, because He who created it all is everywhere. David attests to this in Psalm 138. No, because if He were confined to some "place" such as our Universe, then He would not be Infinity. Infinitely can not be bounded by the Finite. God transcends all time and all places we can discover. He is Everywhere and Everywhen.
If God is infinite, then what part of Man is like that? My firm belief is that the answer is his self his being. The "stuff' of which the real, inside man is made is "God-stuff." (I don't mean to be impertinent by saying that. I mean only to help us both to understand as much as we can.)By "God-stuff," I mean the stuff or the substance of which God consists. Whatever God is - I am.
Isn't that a breath-taking thought! I am made of the same stuff that God is!
Since He made me in His image, not only does the real me consist of the same stuff as God, but it is arranged in a similar way. As a matter of fact - in His image.
How does all this help to answer our questions about self-awareness?
I - the real me - am a being, fashioned in the image of God and made of God-stuff. Therefore, at least a part of my nature is God-like. We have already observed that God is infinite and cannot be confined to any physical space of which we are aware. If I share this infinite nature of His, how then can I - the real me - be confined inside this physical, mortal, body?
Ah, ha! Therein lies the real, deep secret of Life.
Man, by virtue of his creation, is in the image of his Creator - God. Man's essential nature is not temporary, physical, mortal, perishable, but rather eternal, spiritual, immortal, imperishable. But, in order for man to begin living, the Creator placed him in a temporary, physical, mortal, perishable Universe. This called for placing the immortal being into a mortal envelope the real me into a human, mortal body.
While in this temporary body, my purpose is to learn and grow from His revelation applied to my life experience. What am I to learn? He wants me to learn that I am made of God-stuff. God wants me to grow to be Godlike. Scripture teaches me that I am His offspring (and as such would share His nature, just as a child shares the nature of its parents). God Himself calls me His child. Jesus is referred to as my "older brother." He came to Earth, taking on the human form. His put his Divine nature into a mortal envelope like ours. (Could it be that that is the only form in which He could live in this physical Universe?)
He lived in that body about a third of a century - our time. Long enough to set an example for me to follow. Jesus taught by example. I am to follow Him. But, why am I to imitate Him?
Because He teaches me to be God-like.
Jesus taught His disciples that in seeing Him, they were seeing the Father. He also taught that He and the Father are One. Now I know it means more than what I am saying here, but I now know that one thing He meant by that is that He and the Father are the same stuff. And that He was showing me how to be like Him, who is one with God.
The great secret of life?
Daily, a step at a time, to grow to be more God-like. Before I leave this Earth and give up this body to decay, my objective is to grow up to be like my Older Brother and my Father--to be God-like.
Am I capable of doing it? In His Word, God says so in many places in many ways! How can I say that I cannot?
To me, it is now easy to see that the entire point of Christ's incarnation, His life, His death, His burial, resurrection, ascension, the coming of the Spirit, the writing of Scripture, His preparation of an eternal place for me, is for me to become enough like God, so that I am prepared to spend an eternity with Him, doing "God-things."
Paul gives us a glimpse of this temporary body in 1 Corinthians 15, when he says that it will be raised from the dead and will be changed to an incorruptible, immortal body.
However, during the time while I am in it, I - the real me - am separate from my physical body. My being exists separate and apart from it. My body is temporary. I am permanent. Eternal.
That is how I can be aware of self. I can do self analysis thus:
First: I am separate and distinct from this body I live in and therefore have a consciousness which is separate from it. I can be objective about my body and about its performance.
Second: I - the real me - am made of God-stuff and am eternal. I am growing more each day to be more Godlike. I can be like Him. I can make it. I can be ready to live in the place He is preparing for me where He is.
Self is who I am. The real me. I am enough like God that I can evaluate myself.
That is "self-awareness."
God-like, though I am, there are problems with "self-ness." Because we are aware of self tends to make us egotistical. What I want becomes the most important thing in my life. This awareness of self makes us want to excel over others, to be prettier, smarter, wealthier, more righteous, to win--in all ways to be better than others.
As I learn to control this ego better, I become more "God-like."
Shortly before His death when Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He was not teaching them a lesson in personal hygiene. His lesson was to serve others - to humble one's self before others to the point of doing for them anything that they need done for them.
Paul reiterated these thoughts in Philippians 2, when he said:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus [today, we would say, "Think like Jesus thought,"], who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself taking the form of a bond servant. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God's lesson for us through these two teachers is to "consider others better than ourselves."
Can you do that? Can I?
Do I really believe that you are more handsome than I? Do I really believe that there is any task which you can do better than I? Are you smarter? A better husband? Are you really a better person than I? More righteous?
When I can really believe that, when I can really humble myself before you and wash your stinking dirty feet, then I have begun to understand the "mind of Christ."
The "mind of Christ" is what caused Him to come here, allow Himself to be publicly humiliated, spit upon, cursed, mocked, beaten, abused and crucified, and still did not strike back.
Could you or I have done that? With my present personality, if I had been the Creator and my creatures made by my own hands were treating me that way, do you think you or I could have resisted "zapping" them into nothingness? I wouldn't want to bet my salvation on it.
If you and I have the "mind of Christ," and, deep down, really and truly are humble and consider others better than ourselves, then it would be possible for us to do what Jesus did.
My point is that, at this moment, I don't believe I could exhibit that patience my Lord displayed when He was arrested and crucified. But I have to work on it. I have the ability within me to be like that!
When someone lies about me and causes me to lose my job, insults my intelligence, or "puts me down" in some other way, when someone spits in my face and mockingly calls me something less than human, when I learn to take that with my mouth shut and without striking back, then I have just begun to understand the "mind of Christ."
When I can put my "self" and my wants completely out of the way and instead be aware only of the needs of "others," then I am God-like and I could say, "Father, forgive them. They don't have any idea what they are doing..."
Let us pray to be more like Him.