Much has been written in recent years about “Generation Me,” a generation of people obsessed with themselves. Our thoughts and activities, the argument goes, have come to revolve completely around our own wants and needs. Our plans are built around what we want to do. Technology makes it easier than ever to filter out any news, data, politics, or entertainment that we don’t want to see.
If narcissism has come to define our personal lives and social relationships, it’s impossible that it wouldn’t also have an effect on our spiritual lives. It’s tempting to think that people today are more self-absorbed than ever, but Charles Spurgeon—writing over 100 years ago—sharply described the danger of letting your Christian faith get pulled into orbit around your own ego:
It is ever the Holy Spiritâ€™s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satanâ€™s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, â€œYour sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.â€ All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that â€œChrist is all in all.â€ Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves theeâ€”it is Christ…. let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
One of the most basic tenets of Christianity is that we cannot make ourselves right with God through our own efforts. Narcissism tempts us to think that we can—and when we inevitably fail, it tells us that there’s no hope for us. But when we focus our eyes on Jesus, we are saved from our sin… and from the weight of a hollow, self-obsessed life.