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17th September: Dragons (7) -- Ego

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

So spoke John the Baptist, putting his Ego into place. It seems fair to say that Ego is really only a part-time dragon. We all have an Ego (a self), which can be well behaved and, by the grace of God, a normal part of your life and my life -- and not least of a medical professional life. But it can get out of hand, and then: beware! It certainly wrecked everything for Adam.

This is a matter of perspective and of maintaining God's order and values. He made us as individuals, and it is clear that his will is to perfect us as individuals. The Christian hope is not one of becoming lost in some vast cosmic non-identity. It is one of growing up in Christ to full spiritual maturity -- to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13) -- of putting off the old nature with its practices and putting on 'the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator' (Col 3:9-10).

Our Lord's teaching about self if clear: 'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit' (Jn 12:24). 'Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it' (Mt 16:25). This is not negative. It is the way to life, the way to the new self that God wants us to be.

John the Baptist's self-abnegation was fervent and sincere. It found expression in action. But no one could say he ceased to be an individual. His Ego under God found a normal place.

On the other hand, Simon Peter's Ego broke through as an untamed dragon again and again. His Master obviously had a constant eye on it -- and prayed for him. That dragon was completely tamed long before Peter's martyr death.

Thank God Ego is a very personal dragon, who can be completely transformed. We know about obedience schools for dogs. In God's obedience school Ego can be made a new creature (2 Cor 5:17).

We thank you, Lord, that you have made us for yourself.
Help us day by day to become more and more what you want us to be.

Further reading: Read the references in their context.


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