Have you ever noticed that there are two extremes to be found in the human psyche? Most human beings seem to think that we are either (A) insignificant and powerless or (B) the only thing cool about the universe. Seems rather silly to me that of all things to do, we spend much effort into deriving our identity from our relation to the universe. Why would someone compare themselves to an inanimate bunch of burning gasses, anyway?
It is our complete uniqueness that makes us (A) special and (B) a universal oddity. Not only do we have the state of being “alive” (like animals) but we are also self-aware (which gives rise to the whole “comparison” thing anyway). Ironically, it is just this unique self-awarness that makes us question how unique we truly are… after all, if we are just accidental, there must be another set of “accidents” out there somewhere, yeh? In this case, if we weren’t unique (self-aware), we wouldn’t care if we were unique at all. So, for some reason, God has given us this unique sense of self-awarness, and suddenly we feel small, insignificant, and anything but special… not realizing that it is just these feelings that makes us significant and special.
Then you have the other side of the coin… the slightly looney side. The side that is so happy with the awareness of itself that it wouldn’t particularly mind if everything else stopped… if it noticed at all. These people tend to be the ones that pitch the soda can out the window of the car on the highway because they were out of soda. “Aww… it’s only inmates and illegal immigrants picking up trash on the interstate… nobody cares…” The scary thing about this level of self-awarness is that it can lead to “tunnel vision”… “Wait! I can’t be getting old! But… but… I’M TOO COOL TO BE OLD!” You can be so aware of yourself that you don’t notice everything else happening around you. Denial of a fact due to your inattention does nothing to the rest of the universe. However, it is this level of over-awareness that leads to offense being built up in the heart of man. “You called me a name! That injures my hyper-realized ego! Well, it takes one to know one, bub!”
However, our views of self-awareness can also influence the way we act in the more, shall we say, mundane tasks of life. If you have a slightly paranoid sense of self-awareness (the kind that thinks we are small and insignificant), it lends itself to overt laziness (nothing really matters), over-indulgence (who cares), and a real “devil-may-care-eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-die” demeanor on life. If you have the more “eggrandized” view of self-awareness it lends itself to a more lawless (I can do what I want), narcissistic (I’m too sexy for my…), wasteful type outlook on the world. To sum it up easily, are you more of a “world is your oyster” type person, or more the “booger on the tire of the universe” type person?
Did you know that God is self-aware? We know this because He is constantly declaring Himself to the entire universe… in the Bible, in the “almost clockwork” of the cosmos, and in the person of Jesus Christ. The fun part, though, is that God is the only one with a right to declare Himself as the only thing important in the Universe… and yet He made us in His image with His sense of awareness. Us, who constantly challenge His authority, soveriegnty, character, honor, and holiness by sinning, slandering, and blaspheming. When you realize that sin is a direct challenge to the infinite God’s honor, suddenly the seeming “severity” of the end-times makes much more sense.
The distressing part is that everyone has moments of operating in both of the above mentioned modes of self-awareness. Where do we get a lack of compassion from except from our pride in looking at our own greatness? Where do we get our laziness from except from the hopelessness that comes from a mindset too focused on our insignificance? The thing to be noticed is that both of these two extremes are focused on the same problem……staring too much at ourselves. To some it’s narcissism, to some it’s straight up pride… either way, it comes from being too aware of ourselves and not aware enough of God.
Psalm 46:1 For God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in times of trouble.