By M.R. Conrad. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.
“I need some me time,” says everyone these days—parents, employees, even Olympic athletes. In the current vernacular, time with God could also be viewed as spiritual me time. Without even realizing it, we can begin to substitute personal wellness for closeness to God—but they aren’t the same thing. If we make that switch, we will experience the spiritual dryness brought on by narcissism.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a narcissist as “an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” Virtually no one who reads that definition will consider himself to be a narcissist. When we think of a narcissist, most people immediately picture someone else—an Instagram influencer, a pop star, a professional athlete, or a certain former president.
No one imagines themselves to be a narcissist, but we have all been groomed for this role. From birth, we naturally put ourselves first. Modern society, education, and parenting encourages and amplifies this self-worship. Instead of curbing our self-absorption, we cultivate it. Furthermore, this perspective is so ingrained in us and affirmed by our peers that we often cannot see it in ourselves.
"In troubled times, 'looking out for Number One' is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Just as a threefold cord is not easily broken, so we as believers benefit by facing the certain troubles as a unified body, looking out for and supporting one another. Troubled times are the worst times to be fragmented or to go it alone." - Olinger
Read Part 1.
Since Diotrephes always had to be first, the interest of unity in Christ took a back seat to his desire for preeminence. Mark it down, when our agenda usurps the greater good of the Body of Christ, we inevitably end up causing great harm to the unity of God’s people.
Wanting to be first means having to tear down others to make ourselves look good. That could possibly mean making others look less intelligent than us. Thinking others aren’t as gifted as us. Belittling the input of others because in our hearts, we think we have the situation figured out better than they do.
Consider for a moment how much having to be first gets in the way of God-mandated unity within the local church. Take your time and ponder the truth of the following verses and how much God prioritizes the pursuit of unity:
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom. 12:4–5)
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Rom. 14:19)
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:5–6)
Growing up, I never knew my biological father and was totally clueless about my paternal bloodline. Scientists can match with 99 percent accuracy a person’s DNA with others with the same genetic ancestry. So, for roughly $90, I mailed my saliva to a DNA testing place. I learned I am 40 percent British and 33 percent Irish, with the rest being mostly eastern European. It was amazing to find out who I really am, at least from a physical and historical standpoint.
Christian believers have a unique and powerful identity: we are adopted (Gal. 4), justified (Rom. 4; 5; Gal. 2), forgiven (Rom. 8), righteous (2 Cor. 5; Rom. 5), and secure (Rom. 8; John 10).
The list can go on and on. But we also read about the spiritual DNA of those outside of Christ: they are dead in sin (Eph. 2), spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2; 2 Cor. 4), separated from God (Isa. 59), and unable to be fruitful (John 15).
It is important to be aware of this DNA, because both groups of people will manifest who they are. Saved people who are growing will produce godly fruit. Those disconnected from God’s grace will produce spiritually rotten fruit.
"Narcissism isn’t a new issue, but I’m often overwhelmed by how prevalent it is. It seems to be tolerated, perhaps at times celebrated, even among self-proclaimed Christians. Pragmatism rules the day so that if someone “gets the job done,” then we’ll turn a blind eye to their narcissistic ways." - James Williams
"We live in a world that tells us endlessly to look within, discover who you are, and be true to yourself. For parents, it can be bewildering how this message has been absorbed by our children. Let me therefore suggest five—admittedly broad-brush—thoughts on helping your teenage kids navigate the modern maze of messages." - TGC