Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

Sayers, a minister in Australia, found that attempts to reshape the church in the west have not been effective because the people inside the churches are suffering from an identity crisis. They seem filled with insecurity about who they were and what difference their faith makes in their lives.
The early church knew their identity was rooted in Christ. Sayers calls that the "vertical self." Now identity seems to be adopted from the culture surrounding us. That is the "horizontal self." People attend church like they watch movies, with a sense of detachment and entertainment. Church becomes another social self to put on and take off as the surroundings demand.
We need to understand how we moved from basing our identities in our God-given image to simply adopting identities from the culture. Sayers does an excellent job of explaining the development of the horizontal self. We now see an emphasis on "self" at the expense of the soul (self is the soul minus the spiritual).
Sayers notes, "We must change and move toward our true selves." He admits, "This, however, is a lot easier said than done." The weakness of Sayers' book is that he ends with many admonitions to change, but no practical ideas as to how that will happen.
At the very end he suggests that "if you are to journey toward your true self, you will need people to keep you accountable." I agree. Use the study guide at the end of the book as part of a group discussion. Then continue on with the group in some form of discipleship to continue on to your true vertical self.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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