Today is Independence Day in America, celebrating the official adoption of the Declaration of Independence and subsequent breaking away from Great Britain. For the rest of us around the world, the fourth of July has another name: Thursday. (Kidding.)
This time of year, I often find myself considering our ideas about independence—not so much in terms of politics, but personally. In the West, we’re enamored with the idea of autonomy, of being true to ourselves no matter what the cost. And yet this ethos has led to people being more miserable than ever.
Because we can’t really be “true to ourselves” apart from Christ.
C.S. Lewis puts it so well in Mere Christianity. He writes:
The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of ‘little Christs’, all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented—as an author invents characters in a novel—all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to ‘be myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop. What I call ‘My wishes’ become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men’s thoughts or even suggested to me by devils. Eggs and alcohol and a good night’s sleep will be the real origins of what I flatter myself by regarding as my own highly personal and discriminating decision to make love to the girl opposite to me in the railway carriage. Propaganda will be the real origin of what I regard as my own personal political ideas. I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call ‘me’ can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.
What do your efforts to “be yourself” reveal—are you reflecting more of Christ’s personality or your own desires? Having our own way might be fun for a season, but true freedom comes from Jesus, friends.