One of my favorite early Dilbert panels shows some space aliens coming down to Dogbert saying that they want to share their advanced technology to rid the Earth of disease and bring peace to the world. Dogbert’s reply is “What’s in it for me?”—which prompts the aliens to get back into their spaceship and take off. Dogbert then muses, “I’ll always wonder if I could have handled that better.”
“What’s in it for me?” is the core question in every human heart. The whole structure of our soul is built on our total devotion to our own self interest, ever since the Fall. That is the core question that Adam and Eve asked themselves when they first disobeyed God, and their children have asked it every day since. Whether it is what food we eat, or how we treat someone else, or our goals or aspirations, our natural devotion is irrevocably “what’s in it for me?”
The problem is, humans weren’t designed to live this way—with our programming fixated on the self. As Douglas Wilson once said in a post, with every step we take focused on “what’s in it for me”, we become more hollow, empty, and wretched.
What’s the alternative? It is what we were originally designed for, to be devoted to the glory of God. Our souls were originially designed to continually focus on “What’s in it for God?” Devotion to God was meant to guide our every thought, our every word, our every deed. Through having a life solely and purely focused on God we were meant to live in freedom and love and joy and peace and fulfillment.
Only through Christ, only through the new birth, do we gain a new nature that can shift our paradigm from self to God. This paradigm shift is one part of being in “the kingdom of God”. If you are in a kingdom, if you a subject of the king, your life is consummed with whatever the king’s business is, whatever will benefit and glorify the king, and your joy rests in being a good and faithful servant. When we enter the Kingdom of God through regeneration, then we gain a new heart that is inclined to God, that lives and works and dreams unto God. Living in this new state of “God-devotion” vs. “self-devotion” frees us from so much that brings confusion and pain into our lives and allows us to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.
If we have a new heart, we don’t have to be slaves to self-devotion anymore. We can choose to live from our new heart, to live joyous lives of devotion to our God.