At the Gate: “A Bloated Soul”

Sitting at the gate, we see the end game of egotism.

It is no accident that Jesus made humility the starting point for the blessed life (Matthew 5:3). Being “poor in spirit” gets us off on the right foot in the journey of life. Being “rich in spirit” (egotism) causes us to march out of sync with the Music of God.

We all have egos, but it is when we allow ego to be king that we become strangers to the kingdom of God. Why? Because once the ego “tastes power,” the taste becomes a craving (an inordinate desire, our Buddhist friends tell us) that is never satisfied. When the ego “drinks the kool-aid” of demagoguery, it thirsts for more. When the ego eats “a mess of pottage,” it becomes gluttonous. Once it has “conquered a world,” it wants to conquer the world.

At some point in the bloating of the soul, delusion becomes dangerous because, as an addiction, egotism must have a “bigger hit” to achieve the same satisfaction. Lying turns into the Big Lie. Becoming Big Dog is mandatory. In that condition, the ego abandons decency and truth, thereafter justifying whatever it says and does in service to the person’s self-created cause. And with the false prophets claiming that God is blessing the whole thing, the despot becomes messianic, and his followers make an idol of him. His actions in one place turns into a blueprint for everywhere else.

Ron DeSantis is the latest example in Florida of what a life looks like when it rides the bronco of unbridled egotism. To those who get high on someone else’s bravado, he looks like “Cowboy Ron.” Yee-hae! But to those who can tell a bully when they see one, he is a poster child for a failed life. He is lamentable, not laudatory.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said. Humility, he taught, is the entry point into the life God intends for us. Being “rich in spirit” bloats the soul until it eventually bursts.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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