Empowerment Begins With – “The Problem Is Me!”
Lent is a season of reflection and repentance so I invite you to remember the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the temple; “the tax collector stood at a distance, unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven. Instead, he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, (Jesus said) this man, rather than the Pharisee, went home justified. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”… (Luke 18:13-14)
This story embodies the first step towards a powerful self-esteem and it is the fast track to empowerment. Many paths to self-esteem encourage me to claim my inner strength, my intrinsic worth, human value and the hidden power that is within me. Secular self-help strategies encourage me to build upon my capacity for greatness. This self-help theory not only ignores sin but the foundation of self-righteous ultimately leads to defensiveness, judgments and false claims of innocence. What do I do when the inevitable problems come? As long as I see the problems in my life coming from someone or somewhere else, I will be locked in a cycle of defending my blamelessness, and pointing my energy away from me and at someone or something else. Maintaining self-esteem is hard work.
Jesus has a different empowerment strategy. The One we follow decided to own ALL problems, as if they were His, so that He could do something about it. The paradox of guilty righteousness is the power of His Church. It does not seem to add up- how can I be powerful by accepting the blame? You have seen, even in the church, where energy is wasted on determining who is to blame for all the problems. Our Father has offered His solution – Put the blame on Jesus and be perfect in His righteousness. So the Church is empowered to stop judging and start loving. As I learn to own ALL problems, I increase my ability to resolve more issues in my life. As I accept and admit my frailty, I increase my availability for others.
It is not easy but it is simple – Accept the fact that the problem is me. No matter what is going on in my life, especially when it looks like someone else is at fault, I simply remember the problem is ME. As I keep the arena of action within the relationship between Jesus and myself, I start at a point of unworthiness and am more likely to behave with love, and act with a Christ-like blend of justice and mercy.
I invite you to consider that no matter what, the problem is you. The resolution, renewal and revitalization is yours through Jesus the Righteous.