Narcissism is an epidemic. It’s always been an epidemic. Christianity is the remedy for narcissism. Classic narcissism can be defined as severe selfishness. It can also be defined as self-absorption. In contrast, Christianity teaches selflessness. As Christians, we put others’ needs before our own. Christians are commanded to love others by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us not confuse service with enabling bad behavior. Christendom has made that mistake many times over the centuries. God is a God of love and also justice. God is a God of grace and also consequences. God is a God of mercy and a God of laws. God is a God of freedom and a God of commandments. In all of these things, God expects us to be obedient.
Unfortunately the contemporary church has leaned heavily on the God of love without consequences for too long. Originally, it was a message created to appeal to a wider audience. Instead, that message has been interpreted as, “Because of God’s unconditional love, I can do what I want;” or, “I can do what I want when I want, and God will be accepting of any behavior displayed because God will love me anyways.”
This has led to a warped sense of righteousness, which has led us to narcissism. Many people interpret behavior as bad and good. Good behavior can be anything from minding your own business to delivering turkey baskets at Thanksgiving. This produces a store credit with God. People then barter with the store credit, thinking that the good behavior makes up for the bad in their lives. Unfortunately, this is what most people think salvation is. They quickly come to the conclusion they do not need church or the direction of the Bible because their salvation is up to them.
This is not how it works in Christendom. We are not at the center of our story, God is. Our salvation is not based on what we do but what God has done for us. God should be at the center of our daily lives. God should be our first thought in the morning and last thought at night. We should always ask ourselves, “What would God think of my behavior?”
If the Christian church would like to see its numbers rise in the next decade or two, then we need to teach selflessness, beginning with the selflessness of God through Jesus Christ. It’s the only antidote to the selfishness of this world.
Rev. RJ Leek has served Gwynedd Square Presbyterian for over four years. Rev. Leek is a graduate of Dubuque Theological Seminary and began his career in Youth Ministry. He has been in full time ministry for over 21 years, and Head of Staff for the past 10 years.
He enjoys weightlifting, comic books, movies, history and following his favorite college and professional sports teams. He has been married to Trisha, his college sweetheart for over 26 years. They have three children Claire, Robbie and Chloe.
Feel free to stop by the office anytime to talk, tell a few jokes, or chat about the latest Star Wars movie.