What is the main problem in our culture today? Most of the time scholarly answers are impersonal. A mother of three young children offers her insights into this question. She does not shy away from her own shortcomings. Which brand of Christianity is of no import here, as her analysis covers all of us Christians, even you and me. Especially you and me. Jennifer Hartline speaks to us as fellow Christians on our journeys of life.
“If you had to boil it all down to one word, how would you describe the problem with our culture today? How would you name the root cause of the myriad terrible ills that plague us?
Today that thought came to mind, and the answer was quick to follow: the word is ME.
We are suffering individually and collectively from the destructive sin of ME. You could call it pride, selfishness, narcissism, greed, ambition – all those things and more,certainly. I can best sum it up by calling it the great sin of ME.
Everything is about ME. Life is, and should be, about ME and what I want, what I decide will make ME happy, and get ME the most I can possibly get. Decisions made by other people must not make any requirements of ME, or place any restrictions on ME. If they do, I have every right to disregard them, denounce them, and demand change.
There is no moral code outside the one I write for ME. I have no obligation to anyone’s best interest other than mine. I work only for ME and I am still entitled to take from someone else what I feel I deserve but did not earn myself. I can make vows that suit ME today and break them next week or next year if they no longer suit ME or make ME as happy as I deserve to be.
If I feel something is right for ME, then it is right, period. No one else has any authority to tell ME otherwise, not even God. Because, after all, if God does exist, then He should want ME to be happy. It’s not God making all these moral demands, it’s man-made religion. And religion is definitely not for ME.
Welcome to the Age of ME, where each person is an autonomous god unto themselves. Welcome to the Age of the Child – and I don’t mean a person under age 18. I mean an era where adult maturity and reasoning has been thrown into the consuming fire of ME and it is deemed perfectly acceptable to live as though the universe revolves around only you – like your average toddler.
The curious thing about this Age is how its people have elevated themselves to the highest authority, declared their own personal sovereignty and power, and yet they have not brilliantly solved their own problems. In fact, they don’t seem to notice that their kingdom is crumbling around them. If troubles persist, it is because the last vestiges of moral authority have not yet been purged, they shout. Once all restrictions are lifted and everyone is free, then all will be right and trouble will cease.
Mortal man, who cannot create life of his own power, who cannot do so much as call a blade of grass into existence, has raised himself up to the highest throne, and having removed the Creator of All, has sat down to stare at his navel and blame the resulting, descending chaos on God.
O People of faith, rise up! You are the only remedy for this childish age of self-absorption and irresponsibility! To place your life under the truly sovereign authority of God is not to lose your freedom, but to gain it. The people of this age no longer believe that, and it is up to us to show them again.
What is needed is mature, adult faith, with a mature understanding of God’s supreme authority and our obligations as beloved sons and daughters of the Most High. Yes, we have obligations – to God first, then to each other, and finally to ourselves. We are not a collection of autonomous beings. We are a human family, and God is the founder and head of that family. We owe Him a debt of obedience and allegiance that is our sheer joy to pay! He has lavished on us all that He is and all that He has out of everlasting love for us. We are, indeed, obliged to acknowledge and revere Him, in gratitude for our lives and our redemption. It is not demeaning to us, it is our honor.
What the egos of this age fail to understand is that God does not require more of us than He has given himself. He does not rule over us with an iron fist and humiliate us as slaves. He reaches out to us with gentle hands to raise us up to His heart. If He asks for our lives it is because He has already given His for our sakes. He can rightly ask us for everything, because He has given everything, and so all He asks for, He has provided.
How is it, then, that it is so offensive to revere God? What other ruler or king would leave his rightful throne to go in search of a thief or a murderer or a rebel, and having found him, wrap him in fine linen and embrace him? What other king or ruler would then set the criminal free while bearing the punishment himself?
All I see today are people living as gods of themselves, answering to no one but themselves, serving no one but themselves. The prideful, clouded and fallible judgment of man is being placed above the infallible and supreme authority of God, and amazingly, people are still clueless as to why the result is despair and chaos. It’s like watching some idiot sink into quicksand because he won’t admit he’s going under and reach out for your hand. Our era is drowning in the sin of ME, and rescue will only come in the form of humble obedience.
Now is the time for the faithful to demonstrate the hope that comes through recognizing the sovereignty of God in our lives. “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” Romans 1:5 “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” I John 5:3
It’s time the world was reminded once again that abundant life and freedom come only from God when we humbly bow before Him. He is Lord for all eternity, and one day, “every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11
That pretty much takes care of ME.”
Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
All I see today are people living as gods of themselves, answering to no one but themselves, serving no one but themselves. The prideful, clouded and fallible judgment of man is being placed above the infallible and supreme authority of God, and amazingly, people are still clueless as to why the result is despair and chaos.