Think about this with me for a second:
- As a toddler, no one had to teach ME selfishness.
- As a kid in school, I learned about just how big a deal I was.
- As a wide-eyed single I was encouraged to go after all MY heart desired.
- As a married man the culture says that I should be happier than ever.
- As a father I’ve been given books to read to help my kids not make ME look bad.
- And lastly, I’m told as an “empty-nester” I will FINALLY be able to focus on ME.
Finally? I’m pretty sure I’ve always made the focus about me. We may try and pretty it up some, but at the end of the day; WE are our biggest fans. It’s actually our natural state. Forget the glory of God, the glory of ME is my song of choice.
We have a heart condition that must be dealt with. We like to think that selfishness can be curbed by providing environments filled with sayings, activities, posters and programs that force us to be “others-centered.” While those things serve a purpose, the change we need must be an inside out transformation, not an outside in.
As Christ-followers, Jesus prayed for us. He asked God not to take us out of the world, but to protect us. To allow us to be IN this world, but not OF it. So, how do we live IN a world that promotes the self over everything else and avoid that same temptation? How do we go to war against selfishness in our lives instead of letting selfishness drive?
You and I do war against the idol of self by seeing and enjoying Jesus. Not just simply looking at Jesus in the Scripture (although that is our great need), but rejoicing and learning how to be thankful for what we see. Seeing His perfect obedience to the Father. Seeing His undeserving death. Seeing His victorious resurrection. Seeing His glorious return. It’s very difficult to stand in awe of ourselves when we stand in awe of what Christ has accomplished.
Another weapon in the war on self is THE Church. I know that when we say “church” in the United States, and living in a cynical culture, one of the last things that comes to mind is “selfless.” My generation has grown up around a church-people that seem more consumed with themselves and their well-being than some people that claim no religion or spirituality at all. But, a Biblical, Gospel-centered people, whom Christ purchased with His own blood, was given to see and meet the needs of others over themselves. These people are fueled by the selfless love of Christ. We speak of the Good News of Christ to each other. We display the Good News of Christ to each other. All of this designed by God to keep us guarded and set apart as His people. The Church.
For the Christ-follower, there is no doing battle against the addiction to self without Christ in view and His Church in hand. May we be His people.