Narcissism in the Church today….breaking it down so “they” can say AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. 20 Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. 21 It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. 22 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. 23 If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! 24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both. Matthew 6:19-24 (MSG)
Saint John tells us that the other enemy is the lust of the eyes, a deep-seated avariciousness that leads us to appreciate only what we can touch. Such eyes are glued to earthly things and, consequently, they are blind to supernatural realities. We can, then, use this expression of Sacred Scripture to indicate that disordered desire for material things, as well as that deformation which views everything around us—other people, the circumstances of our life and of our age—with just human vision. Then the eyes of our soul grow dull. Reason proclaims itself sufficient to understand everything, without the aid of God. This is a subtle temptation, which hides behind the power of our intellect, given by our Father God to man so that he might know and love him freely. Seduced by this temptation, the human mind appoints itself the center of the universe, being thrilled with the prospect that “you shall be like gods.”22 So filled with love for itself, it turns its back on the love of God. (1)
When we hear the words of the gospel, we often look to our society, to the excess of things that people have. The chasing after the faster car, the nicer home, the bigger screen. Some of it comes as well as we think about our children or grandchildren, and we want “the best” for them as well. The best schools, the best universities, the best spouses. All around us is this culture of narcissism, and yes, even among us in the church as we buy into the ways of the world.
But it can slip into the church in a different way as well – when we demand that the church meet our needs, that it provides for us. That the worship service provide what we think we need, that the beauty there is for us to enjoy, that everything in the church revolves around its members – for isn’t the church here to minister to “us”? You want to know whether a church is healthy or narcisstic? Look at where it’s treasures are. Is the budget and the best resources, focused on ministering inward? Or is it on ministering to those around us – and we the center of the church’s work. Does the church find comfort in its own secret language, in being anti-cultural instead of counter-cultural? What about the music – and the sermons? Do we want the sin confronted to be the sins in our community, or are we willing to have our sins addressed, with both the law that nails them to the cross – and the grace that cleanses us of them? Is the beauty of our liturgy, our sanctuaries, our Bible translations and sermons and our music such that someone who is not familiar with the church, will perceive God’s glory during the service? Or is it all about those within the church?
Or are we willing to be such a church, that we see what Paul is really saying to the church in Corinth,
16 Otherwise, if you say your blessing only with the spirit, how is the uninitiated person going to answer ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving, without understanding what you are saying? 17 You may be making your thanksgiving well, but the other person is not built up at all. 1 Corinthians 14:16-17 (NJB)
Paul is telling us, that church doesn’t exist just to encourage the individual – especially the individual who already has been baptized, gifted with faith and repentance, and sealed as God’s child. The world doesn’t revolve around the believer, nor should the church. Instead, we are called to love as Christ loved, to submit ourselves to others our of reverence for Christ, to die to self.
For interestingly, it is then, as we willing lose our life – that we find it, and in dieing to self – we truly live.
So this week – as you receive God’s love – see who God is sending you to… to love so well – that they find themselves saying Amen….
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 475-484). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on April 23, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Bible Translations, Christ, Church, Corinth, God, Jesus, liturgy, Matthew 6:19–20, narcissism, Paul, self-centeredness, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.