I heard a sermon preached last week that talked about Narcissuss from Greek Mythology. Little did I even know where the word narcissistic had it's origin. In short form "Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others."As far as "mythology" goes check out what a fool this guy looks like and how being obsessed with oneself betrays the focused object or said person causing more and more foolishness and destruction:
"In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who had never seen his reflection. The nymph Echo had been punished by Hera for gossiping by being cursed to forever "have the last word". Echo had seen Narcissus walking through the forest and wanted to talk to him, but because of the curse she wasn't able to speak first. When Narcissus became thirsty and stopped to take a drink, he saw his reflection in the water for the first time. Not knowing any better, he fell in love and started talking to it. Echo had been following him and started repeating the last thing he said. Not yet understanding reflections, Narcissus thought his reflection was speaking to him and became more engaged. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away at the pool and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus."
Does this not remind you of the old skits from Saturday Night Live (not that I used to watch that or anything...j/k) of Stuart Smalley (or Senator Al Franken) sitting in the mirror telling himself: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me?"
Oprah-theology along with this world system teaches that we need to love ourselves before we can love others. What a lie. Our problem is that so many of us are obsessed with "our own self" even if it is a low estimation of self we still tend to remain focused on us. We can't get over our own self so often that it stifles our ability to really know Christ and make Him known. It really is in losing our life in Christ that we find it. Here is another quote I saw on wikipedia about the greek legend:
"He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. As divine punishment he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, not realizing it was merely an image, and he wasted away to death, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection."
That just fell all over me that he was so proud that he disdained those who loved him. So true of our society and even the rejection of Christ in the life that is so full of self. No condemnation here but how many relationships experience a death of sorts because that person was no longer meeting our needs or making us happy? Drawing off of the above quote think back for a second to a time when you were so focused on getting your needs met in or through someone else that it literally drained you to where your strength felt sapped and you thought you may emotionally wither away? Been there done that and if I don't stay focused on Jesus I will be there a million times more. I know what it is like to feel so depleted because I was trying to fill myself with something when the Lord offers me dignity, some respect, and He promises to strengthen those hearts who are fully committed to Him. Lately, I have had a huge dump truck of condemnation on me. I am not even sure why but I just think it is an attack from the enemy. Even tonight I just offered the Lord all that I am. However bruised, torn, hurt, lethargic, depressed, mediocre that our hearts are they are His in the offering. He wants us to bring what we have. We do not have to be perfect for our hearts to be committed to Him. Why do you think the Lord says that the most important thing is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. I can tell you this...it is not because He is some big fat narcissistic God...this I know. Our hearts are not safe left to their own demise. Of course when I say heart I mean the seat of our emotions. Our heart is deceitful and wicked at best. I can't tell you how much I have operated out of pure foolishness when left to my own human inclination.
Philippians 2 talks about how Christ did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. He took on human form and was tempted in EVERY single way that we have been yet He did not sin. Please don't focus so much on the transcendence of God in theology that you miss out on the fact that He chose to come to earth in human form and be like us and that He would humble Himself to die a criminals death on the cross and take the punishment for all of our sins...past, present, and future. He grew up like us. He learned. He hurt. He was abandoned and forsaken. He taught. He loved. He knew loneliness and suffering. Your plight is not one that He was or is not familiar with. Please don't ever lose sight of that. I about fell out when I had wondered why Jesus' earthly ministry did not start until He was 30 and I heard that to become a Jewish Rabbi that Jesus would had to have been 30. Why did I about fall out? Because it makes perfect sense that He would go through things the way that man did and that He would be the fulfillment of all of the Law and Prophets. The WORD MADE FLESH to dwell among us.
As Beth Moore has said over and over, "The way up is down." The flip side is that the way down is up. If you want to find yourself in a fall pretty quick then you just keep that stiff neck held high. Praise God that He so graciously gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves.
Finally, I am reminded of the following verses: 2 Timothy 3:1-4 1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
Lord, forgive us all when we are proud. When we lose site of the plight of others because we are so worried about our self. Give us the courage to be different. We just give you what we have Lord. Please make us a people that love You fully. Help! Thank you for your example that we should follow but please enable us to be the people that you redeemed us to be.