I have a thesis that I believe to be true. No, not just true to me, I mean actually true. If you can get past the offense of the first two sentences, then proceed with me. The more glorious something is, the more seductive of a false gospel it is. No sane person is obsessed with dog poop. Why? Dog poop smells, it smears, and it just won’t go away. The human heart is drawn to beauty and glory, the opposite of dog poop. Romans 1 tells us that humanity is seduced by the glory of Creation. Instead of worshiping God, who created all things, humanity worships created things.
But not all created things in creation are equally glorious. We know this. There is glory to a stink bug, but the Clydesdale horse takes the cake. When God answers Job in the whirlwind he asks him, “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane?” God sees the might and mane of the horse, and so do we. Why do some trust in chariots and some trust in horses? Because chariots and horses are powerful and glorious.
Humanity sees the beauty of creation and worships creation instead of the Creator. High treason indeed. But what or whom, I ask, is the pinnacle of all creation? In all of the cosmos, what beautiful thing or what beautiful creature gets the words “Image of God” bestowed upon “it?” Is it the war horse, the sunsets, the Arora Borealis, the sequoia trees, mountain peaks, or oceanfront views? No! Not beautiful enough and not glorious enough! Mankind it is! “Image of God” is stamped on the male and female. Nothing else compares, nothing else measures up! Enter sin. Result? Creation worshipers line up to buy a ticket.
Is there a danger in being created in the image of God? Yes. The more glorious something is the more seductive a false Gospel it is. Enter the false Gospel of our day, “The Self.”
Self-care is all the rage. Jump on Insta or Facebook and see with your own eyes. The expectation is nothing less than falling in love with ourselves, forgiving ourselves, put ourselves first, following our dreams, living our truth, and accumulating admirers of yourself. This is followed by getting rid of all those toxic people who question “Your truth” or get in your way. We don’t need God for anything anymore. We got this! To be sure, we should take care of “our selves” the best we can by being good stewards of our lives and bodies. Godly stewardship of the body is one thing, narcissism is another.
The Christian has to recognize false Gospels. The whole self-help/self-love industry is built on the worship of a created thing. Humanity. Instead of identifying this demonic lie, we have Christianized it.
Christian narcissism sounds more like this, “You have no idea how awesome and valuable you really are! You are amazing! You are one of a kind! You are worthy! Just look to Christ! Look to the Cross! The cross tells you how amazing, wonderful, valuable, etc. you really are! You are worthy of Christ dying for!” Demonic narcissism.
The cross is not an instrument designed to make us fall in love with our amazing self. The cross, rightly understood, dislodges us from the worship of ourselves! The self-love gospel of the day would actually have you look to the cross to see your beauty instead of the beauty of Christ. The self-love gospel would have you look to the cross and say “Wow I’m worthy” instead of “Wow Jesus is worthy!” The self-love gospel actually believes God came for us because of our worth! So why not fall in love with ourselves?!
Here is the truth. You and I are made in God’s image, we fell in love with ourselves in the garden of Eden. We preferred ourselves to God. Since that day of death, humanity has suppressed the truth and continued on with our obsession with the mirror. Jesus came as a servant of all and lived the perfect substitutionary life and went to the cross to show us what we really deserve as he died a substitutionary death. At the cross, we see the massive love of God. We see God who sent his Son Jesus to his enemies so that he could make his enemies his sons and daughters! What love is this! Jesus is valuable! Jesus is worthy! Jesus died and defeated death so that we could be forgiven and walk in newness of life!
Don’t drink the self-love cool-aid. Sons and daughters of God imperfectly love and follow their Perfect King. They don’t fall in love with the man in the mirror! Inevitably someone will respond unreasonably by saying “Well should we just hate ourselves, Jared?!” No! This is not self-loathing or thinking less of yourself. It is as C.S. Lewis said “Thinking of yourself less.” At the cross, we finally can get over our self!
Bill Rose says
Bro – this is so good. Thanks for taking the time to write this. You’re awesome. (and I mean that in a complimentary, kind way, not a worshipful one. lol) Hope you are and family are well!
Jared Sparks says
Thank you Bill! That means a lot brother. We are well! Hope the same for you!