I recently heard a fellow Christian throw out an advice to a teenager saying, “You be you” in other words, “just be yourself!”
This piece of advice perhaps has been most popularized by modern society, “Oh, just be true to yourself”
It is the banner that people wave by! “Be true to yourself” is the slogan of the day. The drama of our culture that casts the ideology that cannot be forfeited by anyone.
Why do people give this tip? Where did this originate? What is the problem with this advice that we often even hear in the Christian circle?
Men’s Fallen Nature from Garden Onward
What part of our self are we supposed to be, “true to”? That perhaps is the fundamental question as Christians we must answer.
When we look deep down in the soul, what do we find?
Sin. This is the genesis of where everything begins. The first sin that was caused by Adam and Eve, when they doubted God and disobeyed God’s teaching (Gen 3:7-24). As a result, from the get-go, there has only been a shame, guilt, and fear within man’s heart.
This sin has entered into all human life and separated us from God. Because of Adam’s sin, sin was passed down from generation to generation (Rom 5:14-18). All men are sinful at birthed deep within their hearts that flow out into sinful nature. This is manifested in words or deeds that are in direct opposition to God’s law. Sin has perverted and affects every aspect of man.
As a result? Men are totally depraved and are against God (Rom 7:19). Sin elevates self and puts the individual on the throne where God rightly sits.
Therefore, “Be true to yourself” is a social construct that elevates the individualistic consumer mentality culture of the postmodern era.
Christ Never Said, “Just Be Yourself”
Jesus instead says the following,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
New Testaments passages confirm the words of Christ,
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh” (Gal 5:24).
“Put to death the deeds of the body.” (Rom 8:14).
“Put off your old self” (Eph 2:22).
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” (Col 3:5).
Therefore, the message of the cross comes to a screeching halt with the idea of the, “You-Be-You” message. The cross is a sign of suffering that dethrones the person of the showcase stage.
The message of the cross says, “not my will, but your will be done” (Luke 22:42).
The message of the gospel says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (Matt 6:10).
The message of Scripture says, “have this mind of Christ… emptied himself to the point of death.” (Phil 2:5-8).
Jesus never communicated the American Christianity where people elevate personal-security, personal-wealth, or personal-prosperity. The true biblical Christianity counters the message by abandoning our dreams, treasure, and ourselves for the glory of God.
God beckons his people to “die to yourself” (Col 3:3) and instead “live unto Christ” (Phil 1:21)
The Most Terrible Advice A Person Can Give
What foolish advice to be given! If you find the “new you” and be yourself, does that lead to a happily ever after?
The only way men can find “true joy” of eternal satisfaction is to be born again through Christ (John 3:1-21).
• “Oh, you just need to find your own identity!”
How can one truly find within themselves, if one is lost in their wretchedness and bounded by this body of death? (Rom 7:24)
• “Come to realize within your heart-of-heart how much great potential you have!”
Does one come to an enlightened nirvana within the heart? Isn’t the heart “deceitful than all else and is desperately wicked, who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).
• “Just release your authentic self!”
Can one truly know the way of life, if they do not know the way, the truth, and the life? (John 14:6).
People know deep down inside; this advice does not work in reality; it is not even true. For God alone indeed is the only one who can take away the sin of self-indulgence and grant a new identity that is in Christ alone.
For instance, if someone is an absolute jerk, no one will say, “Well, you be you!”
What about a terrorist person? Do we tell people that are ready to take our children and burn down historic buildings, “Just be yourself”?
What about with the modern racial division that the country is facing? Do people rejoice that there is harassment because of the color of their skin and treat people poorly?
The authentic identity of the individual is a wretched, wicked, fallen rebellious sinner. We must be giving much better advice then, “You be you” and move on.
Scripture is true, isn’t it? Christians are no longer a citizen of this earth but are sojourners headed to a new home as the Israelites did as well (1 Chron 29:15). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).
The heart is always deceitfully wicked and by nature, harms human dignity and human society. Rather, we ought to point to the Word of Christ and imitate who he is!