My Brother / My Self
by Brett Lewis
Understanding Who I Am
The man made his way into the psychiatrist’s office for his first visit, taking a seat in the big easy chair. Balanced on top of his head was a fried egg, and two strips of bacon crisscrossed over his ears and hanging down between his eyes. He said nothing, seemingly impervious to his strange headpiece. The psychiatrist, totally nonplussed, began, “Just what is it that seems to be your problem?” “Oh,” he said, “I’m not here about myself—l need to talk to you about my brother!” We all have difficulty seeing ourselves for who we are. The problem, it would seem, is with the other fellow. Jesus recognized this when He said, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:4).
Who Am I?
What is man? A dozen different answers could be given to that question, depending on one’s viewpoint. The divine answer is that man has been made by God and is made in God-like fashion (Genesis 1:26-28). Man is the crowning act of God’s creation. What does it mean when the Bible says that man was ”made in the image of God?” Well, it does not mean physical likeness, because God is a spiritual being (John 4:24), No, it means that God reproduced in man His own nature, and gave to man, singularly among all creatures, the ingredients of personality—will, intelligence, emotion.
The primary principle that motivates God is love-for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love is the driving force of the Deity. It splays over into all His activities and attributes. It is the mainspring that moves the heart of God, and is the deep underlying force that governs God’s actions in the universe.
And this is precisely how man was made. He was given a personality (will, intelligence, and emotion) just like God’s and made to operate in the same way—being motivated by love. Gods image can therefore be seen in man in the sense that God made man like Himself to be ruled, governed and fulfilled by the pure quality of love.
How God Designed Man
lt is important that we understand this. Man can never understand why he behaves the way he does until he understands who and what he is. And our needs as human beings can never be fully realized until we are rightly related to God. We have a design deep within us that revolves around a center that is love-related—and that love is not a selfish, human love but a love that comes from God Himself.
Life was made to orbit around the central force of God’s meaning for our lives, and anyone who tries to order his life around any other pivotal point will become bored, restless, frustrated and unfulfilled. He is not functioning as God designed. No man can know a meaningful existence on this earth until God rules at the center of his life.
How did Satan attack the first human pair in the garden? He came to the woman and made an appeal based on her self-interest. He posed the question, “Has God really forbidden you to do that?” She began to wonder whether she was really missing out on something. The more she thought about it the more it created doubt in her own mind that God was really good, and it encouraged her to seek after that which God forbade.
Man’s Real Problem
This is exactly what sin is all about. It is choosing our own way rather than God’s way. People often think of sin as the performance of specific acts: murder,adultery, lying. Actually these are only symptoms of an inner disharmony. Man’s basic problem is that he has dethroned God from the center of his being and has in turn enthroned self-interest, egocentricity and self-worship in place of the Almighty.
We must see this at the root of all of our problems with our brother or our self. Man is designed by God with a personality that only operates smoothly when fed by His love. When he separates himself from that stream of eternal love and seeks to run his life on another motivation which is basically egocentric—he has denied the nature of the man whom God created.
Sin must be seen as refusing God a rightful place in the center of my being. It is saying to God, “I want to run my own life. I don’t want you telling me what to do.” It is only as we deal with this deep problem of egocentricity that we can solve the related problems with brother or self, and move forward to live our lives according to God’s design. There is nothing more vital in life than for me to deal honestly, fairly and righteously with my brother / my self.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1984