“Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God…”

10 06 2011

Let’s take this discussion of what it means to “deny yourself” a step further:

And what does “deny” mean anyway?

Theologians have been teaching about the importance of self-knowledge for a loooong time.

It is also really cool to look deeper at the meaning of the word “deny” (as in “deny yourself”).  The Greek word here for “deny” is “aparneomi“, and means, “To affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests”.  So Jesus is saying that you should acknowledge, “I don’t know myself.  I don’t know who I am or what I want.”  This fits in with what I wrote last time: that we are called to let go of the stories we’ve written by ourselves about our lives, and ask God what story He would like to write.

“Know thyself” is indispensible advice!  The famous 16th century theologian John Calvin said that knowledge of God is impossible without it!   But to attain self-knowledge, you first have to “deny yourself”—let go of the self that you thought you knew you were.

But even more exciting is this connection you may not have noticed before: Jesus is telling his disciples to deny themselves, but his statement is specifically in response to what Peter said.  Peter rebuked Jesus because Peter was resistant to the idea of suffering and death on a cross.

”]Jesus’ choice of words here is very powerful, because it was Peter who, on the night Jesus was arrested, “denied” not himself, but Christ – three times.  He should have said, “I don’t know myself, so I’m going to offer myself like a sacrifice up to God and let him give me the life that he would have for me.”  But instead, tragically, he said, “I do not know the man!

In the end, it seems, you have a choice:  Deny yourself, or deny Christ.  Admit that you don’t know yourself, or admit that you don’t know Christ.  Give up your own story of what your life is about, or give up Christ’s story of what your life is about.

I hope you’ll choose the latter: Because both stories include you suffering and dying.  But Jesus’ story includes you being raised from the dead.

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