I think Selwyn’s study speaks for itself – as I said yesterday I think that throughout history philosophers have tried to define what is ‘self’. This is where I agree with Selwyn, any definition which does not involve our relationship with God, is deficient.

He says: ” … any attempt to deal with the self outside of God succeeds only in feeding the disease that it needs to cure – self-centredness. Self in our own hands is a problem. Self in God’s hands is a power.”

Those who don’t have a relationship with God are under Satan’s control. Satan negotiates with us through our ‘self”; he says, something like: “Whatever you want – people to manipulate, power or wealth, I can give to you.” It’s a deception – but our own self-interests wants recognition so that we can become ‘like God’ – we want to believe the lie. In doing so, we allow Satan to manage our affairs – and this self-centredness shows in our relationships.  I don’t think I’m making too much of the spiritual side of our life’s struggles – do you?

The self

I guess the question; ‘Who are you?’ allows us to focus on what we see as being uniquely ‘us’. We can also look at this question by asking an observer, perhaps a friend ‘ Who is this person?’ This is the external ‘you’, that people experience when they interact with you in various ways – when people get to know you, do they see the ‘real you’? It’s an important question because it tests your satisfaction or comfort with your perception of ‘self’.

Selwyn talks about two aspects of self which I think have more to do with the ‘meaning of life’ and how we find life’s meaning. I don’t think it’s on target in regard to describing the nature of what we call ‘self’. He talks about self-realisation and self-renunciation, as follows: “The school of self-realisation – a typically Western position – says all the answers are in you. The school of self-renunciation – a broadly Eastern position – says the ‘self’ is a cancer and has to be cut out. One leaves you centred on your ‘self’, the other leaves no ‘self’ at all.”

I’m not sure it’s helpful to get too caught up in what is ‘self”; perhaps it’s better to look at how we relate to other ‘selfs’, that is, those people with whom we have a relationship; be it family, friends, work colleagues, (neighbours) community, and nation/world. To deny ourselves and take up our cross is only possible if we have built relationship based on our desire to serve, and they are not built on our desire to control, rule or destroy. If we truly love God with all our heart, mind and strength; and, also love everyone else in the same way God loves us – then and only then, can we deny our ‘self’. Do you agree?


Today, Selwyn looks at another ‘tough saying of Jesus (Luke 9:23-24): “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” This is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges a disciple can face for it involves self-denial, self-giving and self-effacement.’

Selwyn makes an important point: “Tragedies, accidents, sicknesses, misfortunes are not crosses in the sense in which the word is being used here.”

Taking up our cross and following Jesus each day – involves a choice – we can choose to follow Him OR we can choose to follow our own worldly desires, our own individual path. Jesus could have stayed in Galilee, healing sick people, driving out demons, and feeding the crowds with ‘loaves and fishes’; instead He choose to follow the road to Jerusalem, and to go to the cross which was waiting for Him. It’s the same for us – we can spend our life in the cosy villages of Galilee or take the hard road to Jerusalem – it’s our choice!

What do you think?

The Jesus way

If you think about it this is almost, a too hard to believe, verse (Matthew 20:28); ” … the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve  …. “   Jesus is our God who created everything, what we can see and can’t see; including the substance and laws of physics (gravity, light, mass and energy) – He set everything in motion from the beginning of time. He knows where you be at the end of time; and, that is hard to understand!

Jesus, our God, came about 2000 years ago, to provide a service for everyone – He is our suffering servant - who wants to save the lost.

As Selwyn says: “Jesus calls us to humble servant-hood, not assertive individualism.”

Likewise, for us to follow Jesus – we too must live our lives like servants – always striving to tell others the good news about how they can be saved and find eternal rest and peace.

Who is the greater?

I agree with Selwyn’s introduction: ” … the lesson Jesus tries to teach the disciples (and all who follow Jesus) – that greatness lies in serving and not in being served – is one of the hardest to learn.”

We tend to look up to those who are leaders of government, business empires,  fashion, media (including movie and TV stars); and, also churches. In part, because of their success, we tend to set these people up as role models for where we would like to be, if we could be.

Yet, it’s those who practise sacrificial love who are the true leaders and their rewards are not to be found in the ‘here and now’ – but in the next life – for eternity! It’s a question of focus – where is greatness to be found – here on this earth or in heaven?

What do you think?

Tool of our trade

We join with Selwyn in looking at John 13:16 for another day. I liked his view that bending down to wash another’s feet, involves obedient service and is different to the world’s view of only providing a service if it’s in the person’s interest. I also liked the last two sentences, of today’s study: “As we become servants and wash each other’s feet, the distinction between master and servant ends. Serving each other, we all simultaneously become the greatest (equal ?) in the kingdom.”

I don’t find this verse in John, to be particularly hard to accept (hence the short post) – how about you?

The meaning of greatness

We now move onto the next tough saying of Jesus. The particular verse, Selwyn now looks at is John 13:16; “No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.’ It comes after Jesus has washed the disciples feet, normally a servant would undertake this task and it appears that at the last supper there was no servant, and none of the disciples had volunteered to carry out this chore. Jesus then says: “I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

As Selwyn says in his conclusion: “Greatness (in this world) is found in serving, not in being served.” Do you agree with this statement?