Towards an Appropriate Self-Image – Shelby County Reporter
By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist
Recently I discovered a radio station in our area that plays music from the 60s, 70s and 80s – really good music – at least according to our “seasoned citizens”. I heard a song that I had almost forgotten by the late great Roger Miller. The chorus says, “Dang me, dang me, they should take a rope and hang me / hang me from the highest tree, woman, would you cry for me?”
“Dang Me” spent 25 weeks on the “Billboard” country music charts in 1964.
I can’t get this chorus out of my head. I thought about singing it the next time I’m ashamed at home or at work to say, “OK. I messed up. Stack on! “
The man portrayed in this song is really down on himself.
Some believers approach the Christian life in the same way, insisting that we are rebellious sinners unworthy of God’s love. As Jonathan Edwards urged long ago, God rightly holds us above the flames of hell like a spider on a web. My generation sang Isaac Watt’s classic hymn, “To the Cross,” published in 1707. One of the verses says, “Would he want this holy head, for a worm like me?” Somewhere along the way the verse was changed in the hymns that our church uses to “for sinners like me?”
I guess the image of a worm was too much for hymn editors.
But it is all true. We are rebellious sinners unworthy of the love of God. So theologians speak of grace. This means that we receive the love of God despite our unworthiness: “grace greater than our sin,” as another hymn says.
At the other end of the theological spectrum is the scriptural teaching that God created us. Everything he has done he pronounces well, including the man and the woman. Psalm 139 states that each person has been purposefully “united in our mother’s womb”, and Psalm 8 states that we have been “made a little lower than God and crowned with glory and honor”. The King James translators couldn’t conceive of such a stunning concept, so they used “angels” in verse 5. However, the Hebrew word is “Elohim,” one of the many names of God in the Old Testament.
So we have two polarities on the spectrum of self-image. On the one hand, we are wasted by our life of bad choices and willful rebellion. We fail. On the other hand, we are the good work of God, done deliberately and with love by him, created in his image.
How to maintain an appropriate self-image? Maybe the concept of self is a balancing act. We avoid a proud attitude at all costs, for pride leads to destruction, but we rejoice that he declares us worthy to commune with him.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.