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Lenten Devotion for February 26, 2024 Community, not Narcissism

And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” (Ephesians 4:11–14, CSB)

 

The Church in America struggles with a narcissistic strain that has caused her and her message great harm. Narcissistic Christians generally hold to the same theology as other congregants, but the characteristic behaviors of narcissism are present in how their lives are lived within the Church. The Church, the Bible and Christian teachings become subverted to achieve emotional and relational goals, consciously or unconsciously.

The Church is harmed as a result. The community is harmed as the covenant community is dislodged from the center and emphasis is instead placed on the individual and personal spirituality. Church attendance becomes unnecessary where people do not feel covenant obligations for one another. The self-understanding of the Church becomes fixated on achieving power, success and a sense of its own importance. Individuals within and without the Church are discounted if they do not contribute to that self-image. The Church too often has become full of itself and condescending to the world.

The Church is not perfect any more than her members, but if we belong to Jesus, we belong to her. Jesus has called the Church into being as His designated people and instrument in the world If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another...” (1 John 1:7, CSB) The cross must return to the center of the Church. All we are— and all we are called to do—is centered on what Jesus has done and continues to do for us. 

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