I’ve been reading a paper which talks about the concept of ‘the empty self’. Inner emptiness, according to Philip Cushman of the California School of Professional Psychology, can be expressed by low self-esteem, values confusion, eating disorders, drug abuse and chronic consumerism. ‘The empty self has become such a prevalent aspect of our culture that much contemporary psychotherapeutic theory is devoted to its treatment,’ Cushman says. His paper endeavours to put this concept in its historical setting and suggest reasons why the concept of the empty self is so prevalent today.
An honest look at our modern culture will verify the hypothesis for many of us. Not only are we empty people, but we try to fill the emptiness with all kinds of things – food, drink, pleasure, entertainment and, Cush would argue, most of all, consumerism. We have to acquire more and more in an effort to fill our emptiness. And if that doesn’t work, we try to change our lifestyles through self-help or psychotherapy.
In the context of reading this paper, today I read these words from the Bible and was struck at the claims of Jesus to fill our emptiness:
‘Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water”.’ John 4.
‘Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”’ John 6.
Sir, give us this water, for we are empty without it.
Sir, give us this bread, for we are empty without it.
Lord, give us Jesus, for we are empty without him.