….and how to fix it
“No,” I said after being asked if I had any plans for summer vacation. “Why not?” was his response. “To be clear, I’m not against vacations, I go on vacation every once in a while. However, it seems to me many are always planning and executing their world travels. There’s more to life than just vacations. In addition, the intent is usually self-centered.” Then I got the comment “The daily grind of going to work and back seems so mundane, vacations gives us something to anticipate. And what’s more to life any way?”
He should have known better, he was a bright, well educated who person who possessed charisma and leader like traits. Beyond that, he was no novice Christian. I was saddened, but not surprised. When Christians have this central self-focus, I call it Christian Narcissism.
On one end, we have many Christians pursuing luxurious vacations, sprawling estates, feasts, fashion and entertainments such as sports, music and movies. Some feel gain is godliness.
Sliding to the other end, we have self-focused spirituality, a focus on one’s spiritual satisfaction. After salvation, the only thing left is eternity. These people’s core focus is Christian friends, music, “Christian” culture, personal knowledge and/or study. Some think that Christianity is made up in a special formula of clothing and spiritual sounding words and phrases.
A measure of necessity can be seen on both ends of the spectrum. Many things are needed to live such as food, clothing and shelter. We also need time to rejuvenate and enjoy God’s creation and gifts he has supplied. Yes, on the other end we do need godliness, fellowship, praising God and knowledge. These too are essentials.
However, my cross-hairs are set on the focus of excess personal affluence and selfish spirituality. In other words, many Christians are focused on their personal peace and affluence. This is not the mark of a mature follower of Christ – but a babe.
The Big Three – How Not To Be That Christian Narcissist
Now probably the Scriptures could speak to many more items, but the following three attributes are essentials for a mature follower of Christ.
- modeling virtue
Like usual, words were chosen here to make one think. Also, I want to note that a proper modeled virtuous life should, as a matter of course, lead to the other two. If Spiritual fruit is produced and if there is obedience to Christ and Apostles it is just one package.
However, many slide to “first base” and stay there focused on personal peace and spirituality – ignoring the other two. Some may try to jump to the second or third and ignore the others. All are essential in some measure but not sufficient in themselves for a mature believer.
In Pursuit of Righteousness
Foundational to virtue and righteousness is love, not the emotional nor tolerance type that contemporaries teach – but the real biblical love. We must be followers of Christ, growing in godliness, sanctification virtue. This is where we model or live our faith as Christ taught. To be ambassadors for Christ we need to be knowledgeable, wise and virtuous. These are life long pursuits for a Christ follower.
One does not have to interact long with others to know that many have true needs. In Matthew 15 Jesus says that he will separate the “sheep from the goats” by the following standards. His sheep are those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, house strangers, clothed the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. Those who aren’t altruistic will be told “depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” James says that true religion is to care for the suffering widows and orphans.
Articulate The Message
A prayer for many to come to salvation is essential, because without the work of Christ and the Spirit our talk has no efficacy. But we are tasked to teach, persuade, make a case for and tell others about Christ. While doing good and being righteous are essentials for bring others to Christ, there also has to be verbal communication. Jesus did more than just live right and help others, he spoke it as well. A teacher who never speaks or writes, but only demonstrates the lesson, would teach some, but would soon be jobless. A salesperson would also not last long if he knew and used the product line but never communicated to people about the line. Jesus commanded the apostles to teach what he taught them. One command was to tell others the Gospel – this is a perpetual command. He taught them to teach their disciples and those disciples were to teach others.
Narcissism And The Fix
While self preservation and spirituality are essential for us, these must not sum up the life of a believer. There is more, living in obedience to Christ, doing good works (as the Bible calls it), and verbally communicating the Gospel. The focus is not us, but rather Christ.