Who Are You, Really?

February 2, 2010 at 16:02 (Orthodox Christianity, Philosophy)

I wish I was half as smart as this guy!

Foundational questions for the self can be found in statements such as this of St. Paul:

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet, not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

What does St. Paul mean by the word, “I,” in this statement? It is clear that the identity shifts over the course of the two sentences. “I live, yet not I.”

The same thought resides in Christ’s commandment, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

The question “Who are you?” or even “What are you?” is not quite as obvious as it would seem. The fathers of the Church who write on prayer and the inner life, speak about the problem of the logismoi, the little thoughts that sound constantly in our minds. The modern ego is described by Archimandrite Meletios Webber as a sort of false construct, a narrative of the logismoi which we often struggle to maintain and defend, projecting it backwards and forwards through time. The identity that exists only in the present remains virtually unknown to most.

It is understood as well that the identity that is so fiercely defended in our acts of pride and the like is not the self at all. In Christian teaching the true self is only found in “emptying ourselves” in the likeness of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). We create a false self not only in defending our false positions, but also in creating a life of opinion and judging where thoughts and feelings, particularly those that give us a sense of belonging to a particular group, become of paramount importance. Thus to say, “I am an Orthodox Christian,” can, in some cases, mean little more than “I am a fan of such-and-such a football team.” Our identity becomes marked by arguments and positions – but not marked by prayer and communion with God. Holding Orthodox opinions is not the same thing as the life of the Orthodox faith.

Continue reading HERE…..

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