How should i think of myself? What attitude should I adopt toward myself? These are contemporary questions of great importance, questions to which a satisfactory answer cannot be given without reference to the Cross.
A low self-image is common, since many modern influences dehumanize human beings and make them feel worthless. Wherever people are politically or economically oppressed, they feel demeaned. Racial and sexual prejudice have the same effect. As Arnold Toynbee put it, technology demotes persons into serial numbers, “punched on a card and designed to travel through the entrails of a computer.” Ethologists like Desmond Morris tell us that human beings are nothing but animals, and behaviorists like B. F. Skinner say that they are nothing but machines programmed to make automatic responses to external stimuli.
Further, the pressures of a competitive society make many feel like failures. And, of course, there is the personal tragedy of being unloved and unwanted. All these are causes of a low self-image.
In overreaction to this set of influences is the popular movement in the opposite direction. With the laudable desire to build self-respect, it speaks of human potential as virtually limitless. Others emphasize the need to love ourselves. In his perceptive book Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship (1977), Paul Vitz cites the following as an illustration of “selfist jargon”:
“I love me. I am not conceited. I’m just a good friend to myself. And I like to do whatever makes me feel good.…”
Another example is this limerick:
There once was a nymph named Narcissus,
Who thought himself very delicious;
So he stared like a fool
At his face in a pool,
And his folly today is still ...
John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."1
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