Theological Narcissism

by

According to Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter from Thespia renowned for his beauty. His enemy, Nemesis, lured the arrogant Narcissus to a pool of water where he gazed at his own reflection and became utterly infatuated with the image in the pool, not realizing it was his own reflection. Enraptured with himself, Narcissus could not escape the beauty of his own reflection and eventually died. We are all like Narcissus. We are infatuated with ourselves — obsessed with our own image. However, we’re not satisfied merely to bask in our own importance, we want everyone around us to be as enamored with us as we are with ourselves, and, what’s more, we want God Himself to be so taken with us that He makes all His thoughts revolve around us as if we were the center and ultimate end of all His plans.

Our self-centeredness is the heart of our pride and the foundation of our rebellion against God. We not only want to know as God knows, we want to inform God in what He knows. Just as our archnemesis deceived our first parents, so we, too, often fall prey to his schemes when we ignore God’s law, negotiate our selfish desires with God, compromise His truth, rationalize our sin, and then attempt to hide from Him by closing our eyes and pretending He doesn’t see us.

In our natural arrogance, we are easily lured by our self-seeking hearts to look inward — at our wisdom, our accomplishments, our possessions — instead of fixing our eyes on God alone. Our narcissistic self-preoccupation constantly draws our eyes from the Creator to the creature, from God to self. As a result, we begin to develop our own personalized theology, making for ourself a god in our own image, fashioning him to be everything we thought we ever wanted in a god — a god who loves whom we love and hates whom we hate, a god who is sovereign over all the good things in our lives but helpless and ignorant of all the bad things that happen to us, a god who serves us at our every beck and call as if he were our own personal cosmic bellhop in the sky who comes grovelling at the slightest ring of a bell. Such individualistic theology is, by nature, non-covenantal, non-familial, and non-ecclesiastical. It’s a theology centered around what makes sense to me, what seems fair to me, what makes me happy, and what makes me feel good about myself. Simply put, self-centered theology sees man as big and God as small.

But God, in His sovereign love for us, fixed His eyes on us as His Bride, condescended to our weakness and self-centered arrogance, dwelt among us, lived for us, served us, and gave Himself for us — and He did it all for our eternal good and His eternal glory.

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