Airports, Flip Flops, and Freedom

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
1 Corinthians 4:1-4

This past weekend Amy, Natalie, and I took a really quick trip back to Texas for a wedding and to visit one of our partner churches. This required us to fly out of Denver to Dallas and back. I don’t care much for flying because there is no anxiety like airport anxiety. However, I love to people watch in the airport. You see some interesting people in an airport. There are some that dress for business and then there are those that dress for, well lets just say they dress for travel and comfort. I often wonder if some people even happen to pass by a mirror before leaving home. I then got to thinking, what do people think when they see an old bearded, tattooed guy walking through the airport, or anywhere for that matter. It seems as though many people have little regard for what others may think and I have to say I somewhat admire these folks. 

We are habitually self-conscious. We are constantly protective of our ego. It is evident in how we dress, how we talk, and what we have. Ego is defined as a person’s self esteem or self worth. And our culture is constantly telling us that our egos are vital to who we are. The problem with this is it is a completely man centered concept. It seems the Apostle Paul had the right idea when he wrote his letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Cor. 4 he says that he is not really concerned with what others think about him. Many people can relate to that, but what he says next is crucial for us. He says he doesn’t even judge himself. What he means here is he is not concerned with his ego or “self esteem.” It seems Paul has realized something that we all need to grasp.

In his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller outlines some unrealized problems when we focus too much on our ego. He first says that our ego is empty. It means that our ego, or pride, has nothing to sustain us and no foundation. As Romans 3 says, no one is good, not even one. Our pride and ego are just a bunch of empty promises that we try and convince ourselves of so that we can find some sort of value. 

He then says that our ego is busy. This is so true because if it is empty, we are in a constant state of trying to fill it with more emptiness that never seems to work.

He also says that the ego is fragile. This is so very true because our egos are man centered and they are already broken. We try to hold them together with our own scotch tape and used bubble gum. What a vicious cycle this is. 

Notice what Paul says to the Corinthians in verse 4. He says it is the Lord who judges him. What he is saying here is that if we have been given faith then our worth is in Christ and who He says we are. He says that we are loved and forgiven. We are heirs and children of God, not because of anything we have done, but what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. What we see in this is an absolute liberation from the emptiness, business, and fragility of finding our identity in our egos and pride. I would argue that this is the essence of the Christian walk. Yet we struggle with returning to our pride. I think Paul was on to something as he constantly reminds believers that our hope is not in ourselves but in Christ and we should rest in that. 

I am pretty sure that if Paul was to walk through the airport he would not be in his old pajamas and house shoes, with his Beats around his neck. But I am sure he would not be in a tuxedo and top hat either. He would probably be modestly dressed with the joy of the Gospel in his heart and on his lips, ready, and eager to give an account of the joy he has. I want that kind of freedom, don’t you?

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