Saturday, 18 July 2015

Insecurity Versus

The dictionary defines insecurity as "being anxious or uncertain about oneself", or as "insufficiently protected."

I tell you this, not because I am aiming to imitate my pupils (who for some unfathomable reason seem to think that every essay they have ever written should commence in this way), but because that anxiety, that compulsion to secure myself is something I a) frequently experience and b) see the gospel relentlessly challenge. 

Insecurity is a force that produces a lot of negative behaviour. It is both caused by, and causes, self-centered thinking and self-centered behaviour and as such is very destructive. There are a thousand things which we can be insecure about, and I've tried most of them: the future, my appearance, my qualifications, my education, my friendships, my character, my godliness. And its lurking pressure can sometimes drive my behaviour. 

Insecurity makes us:
- hide our sin and weaknesses
- need to be right at any cost
- brag about our achievements
- develop the skill of bragging about our achievements without seeming like we are because we don't want people to think we are braggers
- use sarcasm to cut others down
- resent the successes of others 
- hold back from praising others 
- self deprecate before anyone else does
- self deprecate to secure affirmation
- speak to defend ourselves rather than to affirm others
- envy people who are better than us 
- avoid people who expose our inadequacies
- hate criticism
- lie

Insecurity uses each of the above behaviours as bricks to build an (essentially pathetic) fortress we hope will keep us safe. It also makes us miserable.

This is where One Direction (those great theologians of our time) have something to say/sing that nicely applies to Christians: "You're insecure. Don't know what for."

Thankfully, we don't depend on 1D for our theology (especially because I've taken that out of context to support my point #hermeneuticfail #harrywillnotbehappy) .

Paul says a similar (though infinitely more glorious) thing when he writes:

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, you will also appear with him in glory." Colossians 3: 2

This verse is a big challenge to our insecurity.

It is a challenge to get our minds off "things on earth", to put down our lame self-securing bricks, and to fix our eyes on Jesus. In Him, we could not be more secure. Our life is in Him, and He is in God. In fact, He is our life. He has dealt utterly and completely with our sin. He is our future, so our future is certain- when he appears, we'll appear with him too. Our life is hidden with Christ in God and nothing can remove it from that position. Nothing. 

To quote another song (sorry One Direction, not you this time #harryissomadrightnow):

No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand!
Til he returns, or calls me home- here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

The gospel therefore renders our insecurity-fueled behaviours pointless.

We are secure.

All those needs we feel- for significance, security, vindication- they have been met, comprehensively, in Christ.

In fact, we are so secure that Paul can write, "let everything you do be done in love." (1 Corinthians 16:14) He feels able to say: let everything you do be motivated by self-forgetfulness, by self-sacrifice, by service, by love! None of our behaviour needs to be motivated by a desire to secure ourselves: He is our fortress. 

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. (Psalm 62:6)

And so our insecure behaviour can change.
  • Because our failings and weaknesses no longer result in our condemnation, we can come in to the light and share our struggles, knowing that the only One who has the power to condemn us does not: in fact, "he is at the right hand of God interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)
  • Because our words, actions and finances no longer have to be used to attain our security, we can use all these things in love. We don't have to work for our security, and so we have a truckload of words, actions and resources freed up to defend, affirm and seek peace for others. 
  • Because our sinful self has died, and our life is now in Christ, we can put to death our selfish and sinful behaviours: reliance on them is offensive and rebellious, but it is also a waste. It's like getting a yappy puppy to secure a castle that already has stone walls, a portcullis, a moat and a dragon-riding Gandalf guarding it.
  • Because we cannot be separated from the love of Christ; because God has poured out his love in to our hearts, when presented a choice between self-service and sacrifice, we can always choose love: He is our source; we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) 
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved... put on love.
Colossians 3

P.S You will now have One Direction in your head all day. You're welcome.

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