Recently, a friend of mine posted on Facebook the following suggestion.
“Don’t feel guilty doing what is in your best interest.” Author unknown.
I posted a reply saying that following this advice without qualification may degenerate into self-centeredness and selfish acts. He didn’t like my reply.
Nowhere does self-centeredness emerge more clearly than in national politics. National politics is not necessarily more self-centered than local politics. Instead, national politics receives greater media attention and, consequently, selfish acts are covered in greater detail.
We live in an age where doing what is best for ourselves without feeling guilty has become a way of life for many people. It’s not just politicians who live this way, but many ordinary folks as well.
I use this discussion as a way to focus on the meaning of Lent and Easter.
As you are well aware, Lent calls us to a disciple of self-denial, as symbolized by Jesus Christ on the cross. Saying not to feel guilty about doing what is in your best interest is the very anti-thesis of what the cross of Christ calls us to do.
A story in the Gospel of John tells of two Greeks who come to visit Jesus, as he prepares for his own death thru crucifixion on Good Friday. Jesus says to them, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a “single grain,” but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
This line is most obviously a reference to the fact Jesus dies on the cross, is buried, but rises from the dead and by his life brings new life to those who trust in Christ.
The grain that falls to the earth, but also rises to bear much fruit contains a great truth for you and me. We are like that grain of wheat. We are called to die to our own interests that our lives may bear much fruit.
Life is always a judicious matter of balancing out our own self-interest and the command to serve others embodies in the life and death of Jesus.
We necessarily must take care of ourselves. But, if we do only what is in our best interest
and detach those actions from morality, we have lost the message Christ speaks to each of us. No one said life is easy, or our decisions of self-interest are slam-dunk matters. We wrestle with our decisions and their consequences, knowing that Christ too wrestled with the cross, but had faith in the Easter miracle.