This post, however really isn't about the shortcomings of the secular media. Actually, it's to admit that, like Mia, selfishness dominates my life. Marriage has confronted me with this bitter fact. John, being much less selfish (he's such an example to me of how to walk in the Spirit!), frequently defers to my wishes, and in doing so gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to convict me.
But being open about my personal struggle with selfishness is merely part of my design here. I've confessed this sin, you see, trusting that the blood of Jesus Christ sufficiently atones for it and that the Holy Spirit has empowered me to deny, rather than indulge, myself. Yes, I stumble all too often, to the Lord's grief and dishonor, but He's patiently transforming me, little by little (2 Corinthians 3:18). As I admit my own selfishness, my prayer is that I might, by extension, challenge attitudes of selfishness that currently infest popular evangelical teaching, pulling us away from Christ's purposes for His Church.
Naturally, a single blog post couldn't possibly cover all the specific ways we have shifted the focus from God to self. There are numerous rabbit trails to follow, and I can see a delicious possibility of venturing down some of those trails in future posts. Right now, however, let me delineate the bottom line: We have distorted Christianity into a system of God becoming our servant.
And He certainly did just that, as the Apostle Paul teaches in Philippians 2:5-11:
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)
(The NKJV renders verse 5, "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus," giving a clearer understanding of Paul's thought.)
Please notice two points in this passage. Firstly, Christ became a servant, setting an example that He explicitly commanded Christians to follow. His servanthood led Him to willingly surrender Himself to take the death penalty for sin that rightfully belongs to you and me. Therefore, His service ultimately places us in absolute obligation to him.
That obligation leads us to the second point, which is that one day each of us (whether willingly or unwillingly) will bow in humility to Him. The blessings He gives to us demonstrate His kindness to us, but He will not let us forget that He is the King to whom all must bow. Christianity isn't about Him meeting our needs, and it's even less about Him fulfilling our self-centered desires. And if He frees us from sinful behaviors, the benefits to us of that freedom are secondary to His goal of glorifying Himself! He never intended to initiate a religion that would cater to our petty whinings and demands, but rather He intended that we regard His goodness as greater reason to praise, honor and glorify Him.
If a 16-year-old fictional princess can understand her duty to renounce her selfishness for the sake of her responsibilities to a kingdom, perhaps real-life Christians should seriously consider our responsibility to put our selfishness aside for the Lord's honor. Such a concept may grate at us. Okay, it definitely grates at us. But He calls us to such an attitude, and if we're as honest as the princess in that schmaltzy movie, we'll choose to glorify Him.