The False Self & the True Self

** About 10 years ago I discovered the writing of pastor John Piippo from Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, Michigan. A friend told me about his blog, and I started reading it. I was taken with his insights, particularly about prayer. After reading Piippo for a year or so, I called him and we had a long talk. I told John I would like to meet him. He invited me to stop by his home on the way back back from a Michigan vacation. So Jennifer and I stopped by Piippo’s home, just south of Detroit. John and I had coffee and a 2-hour talk, while Jennifer read her book. Piippo’s mind is sharp (He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Northwestern University, adding to his M.Div. from Northern Seminary in Chicago.), but his heart is humble. He comes across as a inquisitive learner. I invited John to come to Champaign-Urbana, IL, where I live and serve in ministry to pastors. John came later that fall and spoke to about 75 pastors about prayer.

** A couple years later, I spent a week auditing a class John teaches at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, OH. He teaches a week-long intensive on Spiritual Formation to new Master of Divinity students. (Payne is a historic African-American seminary committed to “to prepare leaders for ministry in the African-American tradition of liberation, reconciliation, social justice and the dignity of all humankind.”)

There were 25 students (both men and women) in Piippo’s class. I was the only white person in the class and I was the oldest. That week I was assigned to a discussion group with 4 female students, all of them training to be pastors.

Piippo was just finishing up his book The Presence Driven Church. The book was the heart of the class.

** A couple year ago I brought Piippo back to Champaign-Urbana a second time. That time he mostly spoke about the true self in Christ versus the false self. Piippo argued that true spiritual formation (He defines spiritual formation as “Christ being formed in us” – Galatians 4:19) happens in the depths of the human heart as the false self – self-hatred, self-justification, self-will, etc. – is deconstructed and the true self becomes central to who we are (Romans 12:1-12).

Last week I was thinking about what a big impact that Piippo lecture had on my thinking about the true self and the false self.

I found it on his blog.

When I reread it, it was as good as I had remembered. I would recommend it to you. All of us struggle with renewing our minds and hearing the Lord say to us, “You are my son. I love you.” … “You are my daughter. I am proud of you.” But hearing those words, and letting them sink in, is the heart of our true self and our real identity!

I highly recommend Piippo’s lecture to you. You will better understand how to fight your false self and embrace your true self in Christ.