Me-ology is the junk food diet we’ve been serving up in our spiritual lives. The healthy alternative we need to immediately start ingesting is theology.1 Theology is the study of God. It is the examination of his attributes and abilities, his goodness and faithfulness, who he is and what he has done. Theology is substantial, true, and life-giving. Feasting here will allow us to grow stronger and more into the image of him who made us.
Me-ology is frail, precarious, and dependent on you and me who grow tired and weary and make mistakes. Meology is only as good as we are. And we never feel quite smart enough, or disciplined enough, or pretty enough, or energetic enough, or whatever enough.
We are finite. Jesus is infinite. We are limited, he is limitless. We are selfish, he is selfless. We need sleep, he never sleeps. We are weak, he is strong. Me-ology prizes you and me. Theology prizes the God of the universe who holds everything together.
When we center our lives and our spiritual diet on theology rather than on me-ology, we choose to renew our minds in the boundless worth of our Lord in heaven, rather than in the very limited power of ourselves. We lift our eyes off of ourselves, off of the mirror, and off of our social media accounts, and we raise them high to the King who is wise and able and kind and trustworthy and true.
The irony is that when we make the change from meology to theology, our “sense of worth or value that comes through faith in Christ is arguably more secure.2 Our intuition says the more we prioritize ourselves, the better we will feel about ourselves. But in reality, the more you and I look at ourselves, the more we loath ourselves because we fall short.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus, when we behold our good God and ponder what he has done, your self-worth and mine is elevated. We remember that we have inherent value as dearly created children. We remember that we are chosen, adopted, and loved (see Gal. 3:26–27).
In other words, when we transition from self-focus to Jesus-focus, we actually end up with a better self-image—because it’s dependent on him who made us, not on ourselves.
Because God is the author of our lives and the Redeemer of our souls, we will thrive when we study him, know him, love him, root ourselves in him, and renew our minds in him. Feasting on him, beholding him, and making the change from me-ology to theology is the key to your wellbeing and mine.
C. S. Lewis put it this way: “The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.3
Retraining Our Palates
The good news is that we can retrain our palates. We don’t have to stay addicted to spiritual junk food. We can remove the junk and replace it with real sustenance.
When my girls were little, we lived in Japan. My kids went through the terrible twos and threes and the obstinate fours and the sassy fives while we were subsisting on an Asian diet, with all of its interesting tastes and smells.
When we transition from self-focus to Jesus-focus, we actually end up with a better self-image—because it’s dependent on him who made us, not on ourselves.
My husband and I decided at the outset that we would insist that our girls eat whatever food was served to them. That’s part of the missionary or pastor’s kid gig. You get invited to many places, and there’s usually food. We didn’t want our kids to refuse food given to them, so we practiced at every meal.
If they did not want to eat something that we served them at home, we did not make them sit at the table until it was gone. I simply wrapped it up and said, “You don’t have to eat it now, but this will be the very next thing you eat. You cannot eat the next snack or meal served until this is gone.” It worked. They eventually got hungry enough that they ate whatever had previously been an aversion. Yes, sometimes they ate brussels sprouts for breakfast. But praise God, other than a unanimous and perplexing aversion to tomatoes, they’re not particularly picky eaters.
Physical palates can be trained and retrained. And so can spiritual palates. It is possible for you and me to begin to identify the spiritual junk food we’ve been ingesting and instead make healthy choices that will fuel our spiritual growth. We can clear the junk off the table and out of the kitchen and start making better choices today.
As with any addiction or bad habit, it will not be easy in the beginning—we will initially crave the quick and cheap choices we’re used to. But as our good choices begin to stack up, we’ll start to feel a nourishing change from the inside out. Our taste buds will mature. We’ll notice good ingredients and bad ingredients more quickly. Discernment will lead to nourishment, and you and I will thrive the way we were made to.
- For more on “me-ology,” listen to Blair Linne’s “Sacred Science,” Philadelphia Lamp Mode Recordings, April 9, 2013.
- Keller, Making Sense of God, 139.
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 1952), 225.
This article is adapted from Enough about Me: Finding Lasting Joy in the Age of Self by Jen Oshman.
Many of us believe that Christian discipleship is synonymous with self-improvement. But true Christian discipleship is a call to die, not to improve.