A good friend recently had a significant issue and failed to inform me. The nerve of the guy! Didn’t he know that I was there to help? It made no sense to keep me—a good, supportive friend—out of the loop. It may take a while for me to get over this offense!
Do you see it? A scenario like this provides an excellent illustration of our human tendency toward self-centeredness. The situation was not, and should never have been, about ME. And yet, as with all of us, there exists within my heart a deep drive that ever attempts to make the world revolve around ME.
There are those who would argue that original sin is nothing more than a doctrine invented by religious people intent on controlling the lives of others. However, in the end that argument only lends support to the idea that such narcissistic tendencies are universal. We all want to be in control!
In all my life I have never met a child who was not self-centered by nature. If you question this, I simply suggest that you get yourself invited to a birthday party with a group of two-year olds. Without parental influence, the majority of these “MINE” parties would surely end in all-out war.
Personally knowing God’s amazing love for us as individuals is essential to a healthy perspective on life, but it is only a first step. For us to grow to maturity, there must be, by necessity, a process by which our self-centered compulsions are put to death. Christianity’s answer to this problem is love—not just knowing God’s love for us, but also learning to extend His unconditional love to others. Knowing His love first is what makes us capable of loving others, but, Christianity is never ultimately about US. None of this works very well if we fail to extend genuine love to God and others.
Is there any other arena in life where self-deception is so tempting and so prevalent? Human nature displays incredible skill in justifying its own self-centeredness—usually by focusing on what I deserve and what they don’t. I deserve to be treated with understanding and respect. They are, of course, worthy of my righteously imposed judgment because of their failure to live up to my expectations—the standards by which the entire world should be bound.
A wise parent is one who unconditionally loves his or her child without creating a self-centered monster in the process. Far too many homes are mistakenly child-centered when they should be Christ-centered. Debi and I told our kids many years ago, “We love you dearly and are thrilled to have you in our home, but this family is by no means about YOU.” Based on the overall character of our now-grown children, I tend to think that we were on the right track with our parenting plan.
As the perfect parent, our heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing in molding and shaping our lives. Unfortunately, we often ignore the full counsel of God. I find this to be particularly true of the general manner in which the western church presents the Gospel. The unfortunate result is a large percentage of professing Christians who innately feel that heaven revolves around THEM. A world full of big MEs presents a huge PROBLEM.
Love is never a bad theme for discussion, so it will be the focus of my next few posts. Regardless of how long we walk this earth, none of us will ever outgrow our need to pick up our crosses, deny ourselves and grow in love.