Monday, May 26, 2014

An Answer To Self Esteem In An Age Of Violent Narcissism

 

Fr. Dale Matson

Portion of the Prayer of Humble Access

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. (Page 337 BCP,)
The Confession

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against thee in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved thee with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in thy will, and walk in thy ways, to the glory of thy Name. Amen. (Page 331 BCP, Confession)

There are certainly many reasons to explain why individuals go off on a rage of destruction, murder and mayhem. There are cultural reasons such as too much time on their hands. For example, being enrolled ‘in school’ does not mean that one is engaged in meaningful activity. There are psychological reasons such as a sense of entitlement and need to administer justice for imaginary wrongs suffered by the ‘victim’.

There are mass media reasons such as an individual following the well worn script of violence reported again and again until it is a violent part of a pattern embedded in the national consciousness. There are existential reasons such as moral isolation and anomie.

The means is often confused with the motive. Correlation is not causation however. People with evil intent in their hearts will use anything available to inflict suffering on others. St. Paul understood the toxicity of rumination and negative projections. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).

The spiritual reason is a failure to love others. Disobedience created the ego and with it, a self conscious, self-loving, self-absorbed individual who is a child of the devil. That is the natural state of man after the fall. The unregenerate individual will sacrifice others to satisfy himself. He is motivated by what is right in his own mind. It is a mind darkened by self-seeking sinfulness. He is the measure of what is right and what is wrong. He is a god unto himself.

Man must be born again, rescued by Jesus Christ so that he may no longer live for himself. He will then sacrifice himself for the sake of others. I am not special. I am a sinner redeemed by the blood of my Savior Jesus Christ. Life for the born again individual is not about gaining things, power and recognition.  Those were the three traps laid at the feet of Christ by the tempter.  In each case He avoided the snares by putting God first. Adam and Eve put themselves first and became tools of the evil one.

The born again individual knows that the old man still lurks in the background beckoning him back to slavery. It is slavery to the material and the temporal. We know the old man still exists and is expressed in our unguarded comments, in our wishes and in our dreams. We know that the evil in our heart is only in remission, held in check by the grace of God. Each act of kindness, of compassion and mercy pushes the old man further away. We are creatures of habit and good habits can be good deeds also. We are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). By doing so, we are placing our hearts there also. (6:21)


2 comments:

Jerry Roberts said...

"The unregenerate individual will sacrifice others to satisfy himself. He is motivated by what is right in his own mind. It is a mind darkened by self-seeking sinfulness. He is the measure of what is right and what is wrong. He is a god unto himself." Well said.

underground pewster said...

"The born again individual knows that the old man still lurks in the background beckoning him back to slavery."

Also well said.

All too often we assume, "I've been baptized, and the old self is dead" when in actual fact, he is just a push away...