“I Am” – Self: What Is It?

Mystery and wonder are bound up in the simple statement, “I am”. Examples range from Descartes’ famous statement, “I think therefore I am” to God’s cryptic statement to Moses “I am, that I am” [Exodus 3:14].  The latter is so profound that it is used as the name of God throughout many Bible translations. YHWH, Yahweh and Jehovah all mean simply, “I am“. It is the only name that God ever reveals. “God” is merely a title, just as is “Lord” or “King”. So what does “I am” mean? Or more specifically, what does “I” mean?

I believe it is most telling that self is often called a “sense of self”. Our self is intrinsically bound to that which we perceive, often through our feelings or senses.  In fact, there can be no self without perception or awareness. Self, I believe is the universe at it’s perceptual center. For finite beings such as ourselves,  our self-awareness begins most intensely internally then to our physical body and then somewhat abstractly to our physical universe. Within our physical universe we have concentric “bodies” which we feel as part of our self to perhaps lessening degrees: friends and family, community, geo-political groups, humanity, planet ecology, the universe as a whole and lastly for some, God.

As Christians and people of Faith, we try to invert this diminishing sense of self to put God at the center and our internal self on the outer periphery. But regardless, when we do anything we are never completely selfless. Our reasons are always selfish in some real or abstract sense. Even divinely selfish reasons are selfish nevertheless.

On the other hand, if God is infinite He has no physical center. Everything is internal. Therefore God’s self is homogeneously everywhere and everyone. God cares for you as much as He does anyone else.  This is not His choice but His nature.

 

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