John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Is It Really All About God?

Okay, I've heard this phrase for a while now, and I want to talk about it: It's all about God.

When I was a kid our church used to sing this song that started out "All of self and none of Thee". And then it would switch to "Some of self and some of Thee". Then it was "Less of self and more of Thee". Eventually it was "None of self and all of Thee".

Note: I was once in a church where this song was to be used as the closing song. The sermon went long, and the songleader, clearly not thinking about the lyrics, decided to save some time by singing only the first verse. The song did not have the intended effect!

The goal, according to this songwriter, was to totally empty yourself of yourself and be totally Jesus (or God or whichever member of the Godhead we were supposedly singing to -- though it probably wasn't the Holy Spirit -- but that's another story).

But it always confused me. If there's none of me and only Thee, then I don't really exist anymore, do I? In that case, I'm not really necessary, so what am I doing here? Is my only task here to stop being me, and, if so, why did the biblical writers seem to continue living and having their own personalities and vocabularies and all that?

These are the questions that plagued my 15-year-old mind as I stood singing that song on Sunday mornings.

We stopped singing that song at some point in time. But we still have the sentiment around, and it shows up in statements like, "It's all about God. It's not about me at all."

I know a preacher who prays before he speaks that God will make him like a clear piece of glass, that he will be completely invisible. He prayed that for me a couple of times, and I just couldn't affirm that prayer. Years ago I thought that I had to stop being me in order to be used by God, but I've found that when I'm most me is when I'm most effective. It just doesn't feel like a very God-honoring prayer for me.

So, what do you think? Is it not about us at all? Is it not about relationships and the beautiful creation that exists for us to enjoy and having meaningful work to do? Is it not about honoring the unique personality and gifts God has given to each of us? Is it really all about God?