As a Christian, one of my goals is to be entirely counter-cultural. There are so many lies floating around in our culture today that it is inevitable that some have penetrated our lives. Especially for those of you who are stuck on Facebook, Youtube, or watching television on a regular basis, you are in great danger of taking in these lies. All I want to begin to do is expose them.
One of the biggest lies I have seen evident in not just our culture, but in people all around me, is narcissism – a deep love for self. The word’s origins can be traced back to the story of Narcissus, a Roman myth. Narcissus was an incredibly handsome, which caused him to be incredibly proud. One of his enemies saw this and took it as an opportunity against him. Leading Narcissus to a pool, the enemy showed him his own reflection. Narcissus, smitten with his own reflection, would not move away from the pool until death took him.
Though this tale is somewhat ridiculous, it paints an interesting portrait of where much of American culture is today.
Adam Holz writes in an article on narcissism:
“[In] a recent study conducted by C. Nathan DeWall and Richard S. Pond Jr. (both from the University of Kentucky) that investigated the increase of narcissism in pop music between 1980 and 2007. Published in March by the American Psychological Association, the research shows that incidents of the words I and me in pop music have increased, while uses of we and us have decreased. “I’m teaching people to worship themselves,” pop queen of the moment Lady Gaga says, as if to prove the point. Narcissism has apparently increased so much that the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the resource used by psychiatrists and psychologists to diagnose psychiatric disorders) has eliminated “narcissistic personality disorder” from its entries. So if enough people meet the criteria for a mental disorder, does it cease to be a disorder and become … the new normal?”
This is the exact same lie I hear from the serpent in Eden: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). John the Apostle writes, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16, emphasis added).
Naturally, we are all self-lovers. Apart from Christ, what else should we love, except ourselves? The problem comes in when we, as confessing Christians, are still in love with ourselves. This is evident by our conversation, the way we behave around others – but I have seen few other places that narcissism is fueled than the wonderful world of Facebook.
Dr. Baarendse of Columbia International University wrote an open letter to Christian college students called “13 Reasons Why I’m Not on Facebook”. Reason number 7? Narcissism:
“Corresponding to voyeurism in our peek-a-boo world is the lure of exhibitionism. We’re so tempted today to make our lives the central story, to turn our biography into the stuff of fiction. It’s the self-promotional pop-art world of Andy Warhol, where everyone seeks his 15 minutes of YouTube fame. C. S. Lewis said that humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. But with the constant demand for personal updates, Facebook fosters a culture of narcissism, where we come to inhabit the harmful delusion that the world revolves around us. Marcel Proust recorded every tedious detail of his life in the thousands of pages of Remembrance of Things Past. Facebook is the Proustian medium par excellence. The temptation for self-promotion is inexhaustible: we construct a personal profile that would please an ad agency; we post witticisms and breathlessly await our courtiers’ adulations. We think of ourselves all the time, because we have to keep up with the Joneses. If we don’t update, people may think we’re anti-social. Horrors, they may unfriend us! But how much do we tell? Does the world really need to know what flavor of pizza we ate for dinner?”
I want you to understand that I am not anti-Facebook. I have a profile myself. I like having Facebook because I can check on my friends all around and see what they’re up to. It’s a useful ministry tool as well. More than a few times, however, I have seen status updates, pictures, and comments posted that have no other purpose than drawing attention to self. They shout out, “Hey, look at me!”
I see something different in scripture. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”
My challenge to you is that you would be contra mundum – stand “against the world” – and all its ways. Rather than occupying your time with selfish, vain pursuits, pursue the one thing that really matters: Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Facebook and all these things are temporal; they will pass away. But the things of God are eternal and settled forever. May this become our creed:
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last”
– C.T. Studd
Adam Holz Article: http://www.pluggedin.com/upfront/2011/nailingdownthenuancesofnarcissism.aspx