Monday, March 21, 2011

Narcissism vs. Christ

Consider this:
"When the Associated Press covered our study on narcissism increasing over the generations in 2007, dozens of college students disputed the notion that their peers were self-centered; instead, they argued that their generation's narcissism was perfectly acceptable. Interviewed in The Daily Pennsylvanian, University of Pennsylvania freshman Kyle Johnson said, "This extreme self-esteem [is] justified since this generation will be remembered as the greatest generation of all time." San Diego State University junior Camille Clasby protested in the Daily Aztec, "But we are special. There's nothing wrong with knowing that. It's not vanity that this generation exhibits--it's pride. And it's no wonder with all that we are accomplishing that we have a lot to be proud of." That might be true, but so did earlier generations, and they weren't as narcissistic. This statement resembles the classic narcissistic confusion between thinking you're great and actually being great." The Narcissism Epidemic, p39.

And compare it to this:
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This generation assumes that it's attitude about itself is justified because it assumes that it is special and will accomplish great things. Therefore the thinking goes that the attitude is justified. However, notice with Christ, the attitude would indeed be justified for him to exalt himself. He could have considered equality with God 'a think to be used to his own advantage' [the literal meaning of 'did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped']. He is equal with God and He existed in the form of God. However he is totally willing to humble himself and become more lowly than all the rest. Rather than taking his position and acknowledging 'I am the greatest and I will do great things, far beyond all other beings' he instead makes himself lowly and dies for the sake of others without any thought of himself and his own greatness.

The one who has all justification for exalting himself does not exalt himself but allows his heavenly father to raise him up and exalt him. Those who do not have an justifiable reason other than hubris and every reason to remain humble until history is written are instead exalting themselves before due time.

The pattern of Scripture is that God makes the prideful low but raises up the humble.
1 Samuel 2:2 “There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world. 
It is extremely dangerous to assume that this generation has so much potential that it is 'destined' to outshine all previous generations. It may be that we are technologically more advanced but that hardly means that this generation will accomplish great things. We should not predict how the history books are written before events unfold. Christians are not immune to this either. There are those out there who are already predicting that this generation is a great shift that will advance Christianity forward in great ways. Some even justify it arguing that great shifts in Christianity unfold ever 500 years and so like clock work we are destined for something new and great to unfold. Now history doesn't even have to be written by the victor it can be written by the dreamer before it unfolds. 

The Christian attitude should be less optimistic about our yet unaccomplished feats, whether personal or institutional. If we take the example of Christ seriously, we should be humbling ourselves and allow the Father to raise us up in due time, if that is even his will for us.

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