I rambled with the worst of them
fell in love with a harlequin
Saw the darkest hearts of men
And I saw myself staring back again. (`The Silent Comedy, Bartholomew)
“Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (II Thessalonians 2:4)
In his book 10,000 Days, author Tom Hinton brilliantly summarizes the wrestling match between self-serving “soulish” behavior and love: “Our ego often throws (us) out of kilter by seizing control of our emotions and filling us with fear and false hope…The ego’s agenda is to be in control so it can create certain outcomes and claim credit for our successes and achievements in life…It justifies every negative situation in our life by attributing blame to somebody else…the ego claims it’s somebody else’s fault!…Our emotions play the role of a co-conspirator in all this drama by accepting the ego’s warped logic and ill reasoning for why things go wrong.”
Scripture tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” When we have a spiritual experience, be it in worship or meditation or a moment of gratitude and of sacrificial love or in studying eternal truths, we are able to see beyond self. When we can see beyond self we can see others, and when we can see others we can freely give love instead of hoarding it with a scarcity mindset. The Word awakens the true you. (You can learn more about the Apostle Paul at Cleveland’s Trinity Cathedral.)
Those moments are sometimes hard to gain access to because of the ego, or the soul. In his letter to the Thessalonians Paul says that a man sets himself up as “God” in his temple, i.e. in himself. Why? To show himself that he is “God.” As Ole Anthony shares, everyone else thinks him a fool. Why? Because they are busy setting themselves up as God to show their own self they are God.
While this verse in scripture has been interpreted to make reference some conspiracy to overtake the world by a dictator, the reality is that Paul was directing each person to look at themselves, not some future “ruler” to rise from the ashes of destruction.
It is a description of the selfish tendency each of us has to be God in the temple of self, that way we only answer to, and serve, the needs of self. Unless there is a death, a crucifixion, and a resurrection of a new person to assume the role of a servant King, this cycle is never broken. How does that happen? We will consider more of this discussion in the next article.