The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. (Timothy Keller, The Reason For God, p. 181.)
I like this quote a lot because I think it summarizes well how we ought to think of man in the light of sin and the gospel. Some Christians look at the gospel and emphasize how flawed man is. Others look at the gospel and see in it how loved man is. I tried to share a bit of my thoughts on this issue here (Man-centered or God-centered? Part One & Two).
I like what Tim Keller said about not thinking “more of myself nor less of myself”. Rather, we should just think of ourselves less! That is, the question isn’t whether we ought to have a “low” or “high” view of ourselves. Rather, we really shouldn’t be thinking of ourselves at all so much! We should be thinking of Christ instead!
The above sounds pretty good. I started this blog post agreeing with Keller’s statement. But as I started to write, some other thoughts came into my mind. And so I’d like to provide a bit of challenge to the above.
Let me start by saying that because we’re Christians, we are new creations. We’re no longer the same as before but have been fundamentally changed in the inside of us. While it’s good to think of God and Christ more, maybe it’s not all that wrong to think of ourselves (that is, if we’re Christians) because the way we ought to think of ourselves as Christians isn’t the same as before. That is, we see ourselves as “in Christ”. Our identity now is intrinsically linked with Christ’s identity. We take our identity after his.
Therefore, everytime we think of ourselves, we shouldn’t really be thinking of ourselves alone, but who we are because of Christ and who we are in Him. Given the truth that we’re in Christ now, there’s no longer any need to dichotomize between focusing on man and focusing on Christ. In a sense, the more we talk and focus on this new creation – if we do so properly and realize that this new creation is new because of Christ and because he/she is in Christ -, the more we’re actually focusing on Christ too because this new creation cannot be understood apart from Christ.