a few days ago, i came across a statement attributed to john the baptizer in the third chapter of luke. john is condemnng the religious elite and tells them that God is able to raise up sons of abraham from the stones on the ground, thus debunking their claims of special status because they are part of "God's chosen people." upon investigating further, i found that matthew 3 contains this same incident. reading this caused me to think about our western philosophy of the uniqueness of each person. it seemed to me that john was suggesting that the idea that each person is "special," a soul created by God for a specific purpose, may not be how things really are.
the recent vote on "personhood" in the neighboring state of mississippi ties into what john said in his stinging rebuke to the religious leaders of his time. if we believe that God can create "sons of abraham" as john suggests, is each embryo that has the potential for development into a human life deserving of protection as an individual? is the "self" that we talk so much about in our culture real?
Jesus speaks of denying oneself, and we usually interpret that to mean that in doing so and taking up one's cross, we are to live a life of self-sacrifice. could Jesus be suggesting something more than that? are we part of a "collective self" that binds each of us inextricably together and links us to the God of creation? perhaps it is our own vanity that causes us to imagine that each of us is an independent "self" with a special mission and purpose.
i am not quite ready to abandon the belief in a "self" that is separate and unique, but i must ask myself the question of whether i am a "self" because i think i am such or is this "self" something i have created in my mind that doesn't exist in reality. one day i will have an answer to that question, but it may not come in this life. my prayer today is that each of will see our connection with those other "selves" that populate the world, will see that we could just have easily been one of those other "selves," and that our hearts are filled with joy and compassion for each "self" that struggles for understanding and compaasion.