We don’t usually think about how often we lie to ourselves but we do it all the time, even as disciples. As you traverse the challenges of life, and your ego feels threatened or overwhelmed, it spins the facts, as needed, to soothe your mind. When conflict arises your ego sees it coming and protects you from it, frequently inventing what some have called, alternative facts.
A defense mechanism is an unconscious psychological mechanism that reduces anxiety arising from unacceptable or potentially harmful stimuli. In other words, we lie to ourselves.
Our egos protect us with lies expressed as defense mechanisms, and these are particularly prevalent for Christ followers. For example, what are your first thoughts when you read this imperative statement from Jesus? “Go, make disciples of all nations. . .” (Matthew 29:19)
When I was young I used to think, “Jesus isn’t talking to me. He is saying this to his disciples.” I felt uncomfortable when I thought that this could be a directive for me so, before that unpleasant thought could take hold, my ego told me that this verse was nothing that I need think about (denial), rather Jesus was saying it to someone else (projection). Or, some people think, “If everyone were to go out as a missionary there wouldn’t be any Christians left to evangelize people here” (rationalization).
This blog posting isn’t specifically about missions, but in this example, if one looks at the verse above objectively, we can see that the Great Commission was obviously given to everyone, because it was impossible in 30 A.D. for twelve guys to go to all nations (the word “nations,” here, means ethnic groups and there are more than 10,000 of them on six continents.) Also, it isn’t our job to worry about what will happen to those left behind when we go. It is just our job to obey.
The gospel reached North and South America 1462 years after Jesus gave the Great Commission.
When a disciple reads something in the Bible, or hears a personal message from the Holy Spirit, he often becomes afraid because obeying could result in loss of finances, or relationships, and certainly of control. The ego is that voice that we hear that tells us to play it safe, to take no chances, and to not get involved. It is his voice that tells us that the challenging verses of the Bible are no longer relevant or have another, non-challenging, meaning.
Main point: The problem with the ego is that he is a part of our flesh and, because of that, he has no idea about the power that you will receive from God when you obey.
So what: Be aware that the lies of life are not just coming from the outside, from a lost world and from Satan. They are also coming from inside of you.