The idea popped up in 1967 with the publication of a book by Thomas Anthony Harris by this same title—I’m OK…You’re OK. It sparked a whole movement by Eric Berne called “transactional analysis”. It was a method for solving life’s problems. The idea was that we could communicate with one another better, work on projects and programs better and even live more meaningful lives if we understood the psychological basis for our behavior—the “why” behind the “who”. Transactional Analysis presented four levels of interaction with one another that have counterparts in our faith walk.
I’m not OK—You’re not OK
In this scenario, NONE of us is OK. No one is good and no one has a hope of changing. None of us is capable of being anything other than imperfect and beyond hope.
I’m OK—You’re NOT OK
This tableau sets us up as judges over one another. We determine, based on our own scale of what is right and wrong, that the other person is always wrong. OUR way is the only right way. This is full-on “Parent-mode” that demands everyone toe the line and follow our directions, demands and our example. Like the Pharisees of old, there is no need for discussion, no opportunity for debate and no place for disobedience.
I’m NOT OK—You’re OK
When we approach our Christian faith with this mind-set, we struggle with self-condemnation. We view our own behaviors with a hyper-critical eye and ultimately decide that we are on God’s perpetual “naughty list”. We struggle to find any sign of hope or even hint of improvement in our life. We can become convinced that everyone is judging us by the same harsh standards that we would use.
I’m OK and You’re OK, too
At one point in Paul’s life, he firmly believed that HE was the only one in the right. He was the only “OK” person in the room. Everyone else was “less than” perfect—and had no chance of ever standing on the same level as the great Saul of Tarsus. As he traveled to Jerusalem with arrest warrants for Peter and the others tucked firmly in the girdle tied at his waist, Paul had embarked on his own “holy war”—determined to rid the world of these followers of “the Way”.
But then he met Jesus the risen Lord. Knocked off his sanctimonious “high horse” of perfection…driven to his knees before such humble holiness, Paul discovered a whole new way of looking at life. He came to realize that although we are all sinners—we all have the same opportunity to be much MORE than that. We have the invitation to be “sinners saved by grace”. That makes us children of God—adopted into His eternal family by His Holy Spirit.
The “reminder” from this first chapter of Galatians is that we need not fear the DISAPPROVAL of others. We need not SEEK the approval of others OR even our-selves. We have God’s seal of approval as His children.
And that makes us all OK—it makes us equally loved…equally forgivable…in God’s eyes.