Me, Myself and Him

Ethicist Peter Cave poses a number of philosophical puzzles in his book What’s Wrong with Eating People (One World, 2008). One example if that of David. By day, he’s manly Dave, all rough and tough, causing the ladies to swoon. By night, he is Davinia, glamorous and elegant lady in whom the gentlemen delight. Now 2008 was a marginally more innocent time than ours; the puzzle has nothing to do with transgender rights or wrongs but the idea of changing identity.

After work at 6pm, Dave enters the apartment. At 7pm, Davinia leaves in stilettos. Consider:

  1. Dave is Davinia.
  2. The men fancy Davinia.
  3. Therefore, the men fancy Dave.

The blokes might not agree with this, yet there is a logic to it. If Davinia is elegant and sophisticated, and Dave is hard and butch, how can ‘David’ be both? A lady phones Dave. She hears his pleasing, gravelly voice, but, peeping through the blinds while talking to him, she sees glamorous Davinia. With whom is she speaking?

Okay, so let’s move away from the cross-dressing sphere before we elicit some protest or misunderstanding. Indulge me while, instead, I talk about myself.

Last month, I phoned someone in the church experiencing some difficulty. I tried my best to offer helpful advice wrapped in Christian and pastoral love. That same day, an impetuous solicitor in court remarked “That was rather brutal, sir!” as he sulkily gathered his papers. I had just refused his client’s application to avoid a driving ban, and I explained in clear terms why that was. The next day, a Sixth Former confessed that he would miss my humour when he left school this summer. So am I humorous, harsh or loving? Those words seldom share a bed. Indeed, one might think they describe three different people. Of course, we know that they might describe the same person, albeit in three different roles.

I am now over forty years old. I possess photographs of a fat baby with light hair which others insist is me. Assuming they tell the truth, I have to concur that the round-faced, podgy blond has the same DNA and possibly even the same character as the one whose words you read. Yet, somehow, it isn’t me. He does not enjoy roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, nor boiled eggs. He has no views on politics, no hobbies, very little personality. Yet what I am now, he became. Therefore, what I am now, is becoming someone else. God willing, an eighty-year-old me will ponder pictures of me from this decade. He may contemplate the relatively youthful appearance, dark hair and healthy, if not athletic, body. Right now, I anticipate that wrinkled, grey-haired arthritic gentleman who now looks back at me. Is he me, or is he someone else? Whatever differences exist between us, I would like to think he is at least somewhat wiser.

And what of God? Not only did he know us in the womb, when He was carefully knitting us together, but He beheld us from the vast expanses of eternity, when He foresaw a people to save. Did He see us as infants? As middle-aged readers of blogs? Or wistful old folk, looking back? John writes in his epistle:

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1:3:2)

This is a ‘me’ I certainly do not recognise. At some future point, I shall be transformed, in the twinkling of an eye, at the trumpet's blast. I, and all the saints, shall be like the Lord Jesus: free from sin, temptation, fear, ignorance, pain, tears, and all the rest. That is the version of me I cannot even imagine, never mind anticipate. Right now, I’m more like that toothless baby than the glorified saint. It is a version of me I just cannot fathom, and would scare believe it if God’s word did not teach it. Although I am bought with a price and am officially sanctified, I see precious little Christlikeness within me. Yet God, presumably, can. From eternity, He could, and can, see the perfect me, the glorified me, the ennobled me, which the 'present me' shall one day become, but currently is not.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m more like a Corinthian than a Philippian; a Laodicean than a Philadelphian. Yet even the compromised believers at Corinth are now perfected in heaven; the Laodiceans, if they heeded the Lord’s stern warning, are the same. He who is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, can see the final, perfected, completed version of you. We may therefore share the apostle’s confidence, not by looking at what we are, but because God is seeing who and what we shall become:

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 1:6

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay