This week I have discussed things like Heaven, Orthodoxy, Politics, and Community in this little series. What things like Heaven, Orthodoxy, and Politics have in common, much of the time, are the choices to remain in one’s own self. Not saying God doesn’t use these things. God uses the powers of this world (Politics) to his advantage. The Bible makes that clear. The original goal of fundamentalist Christianity was to bridge the gaps between people and maintain a common Orthodoxy, so we could discuss things like Theology and stay united as the Nicene Creed calls us to do. And, as N.T Wright points out, “Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.” Heaven is a good thing, Orthodoxy is a good thing, God can use politics to be a good thing. The goodness comes from those who have learned to die to themselves. Much of these things can be used to feed the false-self, the self-identified self, the narcissistic self. This is the state of the ego.
One of the true indications of someone who lives in their ego is someone who is participating in Tribalism or Colonization. The point of this state of consciousness is to build up as many walls as humanly possible. We disassociate ourselves with those we deem are going to hell. We disassociate ourselves with those who we deem are heretics. We disassociate ourselves with those who do not bow down to our political ideology or agenda. Yet, what I find so fascinating with Jesus is his radical inclusivity. He was a Jew but he hung out with gentiles. He was a man but he hung out with women. He was a Rabbi and yet hung out with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus didn’t yield himself to this narcissistic ego. Rather, he flipped upside down what we presumed to be true and made it false. He destroyed our tribalism and said to welcome everybody and place them in a higher position than yourself.
Another indicator of someone who is living in their ego space is the person who lives in the state of victimhood. A fair amount of Christians buy into the ideology that we are the victims of this world and we just have to hold out until the next life. They believe that it’s everyone else’s fault that this world is so awful. That everyone else is to blame. They believe they are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and everyone else is the darkness. People who fight for Orthodoxy claim this when they blame the “heretics” for their bad doctrine. It’s their fault that I have to suffer under this bad state of Christianity. They blame people for the state of Christianity Or, I’ve met those who continually blame those people fighting for the wounds they’ve accumulated because of it. They think “we’re right because we were crucified like Christ and they’re just the people who put him on the cross.” Politically, we get Republicans who say “Well I’m better than them because I am not a baby killer.” And, Democrats say “Well I’m better than them because I don’t kill people in wars.” The problem I have with this level of victimization is that I don’t see it in Jesus. Especially on the Cross. We don’t see a Jesus saying, “Poor me, Poor me. How could they put me here? Don’t they know that I am blameless?“. Rather Jesus says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.“ In his book Hope Against Darkness Richard Rohr says this, “The Cross became our company logo more than something that we gazed upon and were transformed by. Jesus neither played the victim nor created victims. He became a saving and forgiving victim.”
The unfortunate problem with living in narcissism is it runs opposite of our divine image in God. It creates a survival defense mechanism. It creates tribes who fight each other. It creates victims. Unfortunately, we as Christians have fallen into many levels of this ego space and the longer we stay there, the worse it gets. We need to learn to take on our cross and die to this false-self. This is why belonging to a holy group is not a reason to be a Christian. Being a victim to the world is not a reason to be a Christian.