It's happened once more, so now maybe it's a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Last weekend saw a rather brutal brawl in the Miami-Florida International football game. One of the players, echoing similar sentiments from NFL-stomper Albert Haynesworth, apologized for his behavior and implored us to realize "This is not the real me." This is not me. This behavior doesn't accurately reflect my heart or my character or my beliefs. Please don't think this is the real me.
We can sympathize, right? No one wants their poor behavior remembered; no one wants their "slips" and "indiscretions" to be permanently recorded in the public memory. Everyone wants to be thought well of by others.
But the tragedy is twofold: first, to separate who I am from what I do is to rip myself in half. If I am not what I do, how can I know who or what I am? The only option is to mentally construct a version of myself completely distinct from what I do, separate from the externals. ...Except the good things I do - those are me. And this is exactly what we do. Cling to the good, reject the bad - those slips and indiscretions? Those weren't really me; it was a momentary lapse in reality. Those times when I was good and you liked me? That was the real me. It's an issue of reality. How can one set of actions reflect the real me while the other set of actions is dismissed as "not the real me"?
The second part of this tragedy is what this means for individuals and Christ. If the good me is the real me and the bad me is accidental, I don't need a Savior. I don't need any help, because I'm basically good through and through, with those cleat-stomping aberrations popping up every now and then. But it's when an individual comes to ponder, "Maybe this is the real me. Maybe there is a real problem, a real issue of character that I can't overcome in and of myself" - sliding down that scary slope is the path to salvation. Doctors don't have time or patience for people who don't think they're sick and need help. Christ didn't come for folks who think they're okay, who think the "real me" is the nice one. Christ came for those who realized they were dead, that, left to themselves, they'd brawl as often as possible.
Of course, put into that light, we understand this isn't a new social phenomenon. It's the same song and dance folks have been using for a few millenia to make themselves feel better without Christ. May God continually reveal to us the depth of our depravity and our need for Christ - and may He reveal the same thing to the throngs who have lied to themselves about the "real me."
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"