Are you the real you? I actually think that many people aren’t true to who they really are and who they are meant to be.
One of the biggest struggles you will have in your own life will be against your false self. How can I be so confident in telling you this? Because it’s my biggest struggle too!
We hear a lot in our culture about being “real” and “true to yourself.” My own sense is that what that usually means is being free to think whatever you like, no matter how divorced from reality that might be. It means to do whatever you feel is right for you, without regard for the impact on others. It means to put yourself at the centre of your life and make sure that your wants and desires are satisfied first.
Be the Real You, Not the False You
That’s what your false self is, and somehow, I don’t think that’s a very helpful way in which to live.
Your “true self,” the “real” you, is who you were always meant to be. It’s you at your best. However, I actually don’t believe that you even can be the real you without Jesus. In fact, we live in a world in which the battleground is really your identity.
Jesus’ disciple Peter certainly experienced that.
There is a scene in the gospels in which Jesus has just asked the disciples whom they thought he was. Peter famously replied,
You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt 16:16.)
Perhaps it was because based on this statement, Jesus thought that his disciples were ready to hear a harder truth, that the Bible then tells us that Jesus started telling his disciples that he was going to go to Jerusalem, where he would be killed.
Peter responded to this in a striking way. He waited until he could get Jesus alone, and we read that,
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (v.22.)
Peter didn’t do this gently, either. He challenged and rebuked Jesus strongly. Imaging rebuking God!
The Voice of the False Self
You see, Peter’s default response was to lean into his false self. Everything that his church and his culture had taught him told him that the Messiah would come as a conquering hero, not as a suffering sacrifice. He had been taught that the path to success was through gain and not through loss. The way of success meant building oneself up and not through humility and selfless service.
This is the voice of the false self even today. It hasn’t changed.
Jesus’ forceful response to Peter was startling:
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (v23.)
When we align our lives with our false selves, we will not be a blessing, but a curse, to others. We will be a stumbling block to the work of God.
This is when Jesus called all the disciples together and said to them,
…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matt 16:24–26.)
What Jesus said here is hard for many people to understand, let alone accept.
We have all been taught to protect our false self above everything else. But Jesus tells us that in order to find life, our false self must die. That’s what denying yourself is all about.
We are to take up our cross because while we live on this earth, the death of the false self must be ongoing and daily. Everything in our society around us will scream out that the false self must live. God wants you to be the real you.
It will be a constant battle this side of eternity.
Your True Self in Christ is the Real You
The world today is trying to shape you into the mould (Rom. 12:2) of the false self (Rom. 12:2.) To do nothing is to let it happen. And that’s a recipe for constant frustration and ultimate fulfilment. That’s because what the world offers you is so fake, and because deep within you know that you were created for so much more.
You were created for the complete fulfilment of love in relationship. This is how our true self can be manifested. Only in this way can we achieve our highest potential in every dimension of our lives, both here in this world and throughout eternity.
Your true self in Christ is real, and all else is false. Only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6.) Only Jesus can satisfy your search for true identity. Be the real you.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.
Feature image: Photo by davisuko on Unsplash