I have also written about the importance of cultivating personal growth and development as unique individuals. (See BEAUTIFUL YOU.)
Surely, I am not the only one who feels the great tension between those two charges!
G.K. Chesterton once said of Christianity that it was the only religious system on earth that consistently acknowledges and makes sense of the seemingly contrary truths we often encounter in life. Christianity is the point of intersection, so to speak - imagine a cross - at which the world makes sense.
Christ is fully God. Christ is fully human. Which is correct? Christianity says "Yes" to both.
God is absolutely sovereign. Man is a volitional creature with a will of his own. We want to insist that the two are mutually exclusive, that we must believe one or the other, but certainly not both. Again, Christianity says "Yes" to both.
Have you ever heard someone differentiate between the "God of the Old Testament" and the "God of the New Testament" - the God of Law and Judgment, distinct from the God of grace and love - as if God was two different entities? For an interesting exercise, read Deuteronomy Chapter 7 (Moses has just reiterated the Ten Commandments and is exhorting the people to march into Canaan and annihilate the people who live there) - read Deuteronomy 7 and count the number of times you encounter the word love, referring particularly to the love of God.
Mulling over the tension between dying to self and living fully as a unique individual, I realized that here, too, the cross of Jesus is the point of intersection between two seemingly contradictory ideas. The cross is the where these two meet and make sense. I am most fully "myself" when I am most fully submitted to God, living in humble obedience to His Word and reflecting His glory to the world around me. That is only possible through the work of Christ.
I am a mirror. Susie and Jane and Betty are mirrors, too, and yet they are different mirrors from me. I am a Christ-mirror who writes; Susie is a Christ-mirror who sings; Jane is a Christ-mirror who teaches; Betty is a Christ-mirror who heals the sick.
Each one of us is unique, possessing unique talents, abilities, gifts, and personality. Susie, Jane, Betty and I have a responsibility to develop and invest our gifts and talents in unique ways. And yet we are all called to reflect the glory of our Creator and to broadcast, like light from a mirror, the beauty and love of Jesus.
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"I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at the first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes." - C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity