The more I study narcissism, the more I believe that narcissism and legalism are connected. It isn’t that one causes the other as much as it is that they share common roots. Both come out of a desire to control. I suppose I could say that both come from the flesh’s need to manage life. The narcissist is driven to control life to the point of using and abusing others. The legalist seeks to control his and others’ lives in the pursuit of some spiritual benefit. Both are afraid of being out of control.
Of course, this is the common struggle of the Christian life. We have been taught to fend for ourselves. “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me!” That’s the idea hammered into us from our earliest days. The unbeliever has real difficulty opening up to a God he doesn’t see and trusting Him for salvation. But even those of us who have accepted the gift of salvation and admit our spiritual failure, find it difficult to abandon the idea that change and redemption are up to us.
The message of the gospel is the message of God’s love. I speak often of how the Lord desires to provide everything we need for a right and full relationship with Him. Sometimes people ask about “our side.” “What are we supposed to do?” they ask. There is only one answer: trust. We are supposed to receive what He gives and trust Him.
But trust always has an “out of control” aspect. When I am asked to trust Jesus for salvation and eternal life, I am asked to set aside my desire for a formula, a contract, a guarantee. I am expected to believe that He is trustworthy. The only way I can ever do that is by remembering that He loves me.
I am posting this on the last day of 2010. I know that the calendar is just a system of marking time and that change can begin anywhere along the line, but I would pray that 2011 would be a year of trusting Jesus for all of us. Peace and rest come as we stop trying to control and allow our Lord to love us His way.
None of us knows what will happen this year, but I have some things I would like to do. I plan to write much more on living in the grace and love of Jesus, through this blog and other venues. There seems to be an increased interest in the subject of narcissism and I would like to have a regular feature on narcissism and how it affects our culture, relationships, and churches. I would like to connect more with pastors, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, homeschool parents—anyone who is at risk of falling into the performance mindset while trying to follow and serve the Lord.
I would ask for your prayers and thank you for them. If the Lord leads, a donation to the ministry would be greatly appreciated. Your questions and comments are appreciated more than you know. They help me think and let me know how my words connect.
May God richly bless all of you and give you a joyful year as you look to Him alone—and trust Him!