On Being Nothing


The admission, and also the celebration, at the center of Christianity is that “I am nothing.”  The human bend is to strive to be something, a desperate plea that “I am something, I am someone.” Much of our daily lives is consumed with that pursuit. In career it is to demonstrate you add to the company or team. In society it is to demonstrate your skills are valued and add to others. In relationships it is to know you matter to the other person. Christianity reverses this. It accepts that we are nothing and even at our best fall short of being something or someone. Importantly it accepts that we are in so far over our heads that we need a savior. That our best strivings and a lifetime of good deeds and effort will still see us short of worth. There are two general ways of recognizing a need for a savior- looking inward and looking outward. When we look inward, a realistic self-evaluation (and this is often the most difficult, as Richard Feynman said “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”) we see a degree of selfishness, angst, anger, discontentment, insecurity, and loathing requiring us to look away. When we look outward we see the brokenness of the world, both natural and human derived, that destroy our hopes for a better world. Looking both inward and outward the brokenness is apparent. Instead of looking for distraction or a stubborn refusal to admit defeat, the Christian must joyfully embrace this defeat admitting brokenness and a desperate need for a savior. at its essence, being a Christian is a simple progression: (1) making an observation of brokenness both in ourselves and in our world, (2) accepting that at our best we are incapable of being the someone or something we desired, and (3) looking to a savior who can fix the brokenness inside and outside.

Published by JR Stanley

I am an MD, PhD student, training to be a physician scientist, with a deep interest in science, faith, and living life as an adventure. Join me as I entertain ideas from new findings in science, evolving interpretations of faith, and experience life one day and one adventure at a time.

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