Recently, someone in my microchurch admitted they were selfish and didn’t know how to break out of it. Selfishness is more widespread than we believe…
Someone finally admitted it. They finally said the words: “I’m selfish.”
That had to be a relief.
Several months ago, our microchurch planned a BBQ to take place on August 15–something we could invite our unchurched friends to just to hang out. I purposefully didn’t plan any of it. I sent out an email to everyone in our church saying as much–that we needed someone or a group of someones to step up a coordinate the event. We’re not talking anything difficult: coordinating who brings what food and drink, help for any activities (which would have been fishing, canoeing, pretty much do-it-yourself stuff). Three months came and went. No one stepped up. No one volunteered. No one did a thing. There will be no event.
The person who admitted their selfishness said, “We purposefully ignored it because we didn’t want to do it.” Why? Selfishness. Everyone that was there yesterday admitted to being selfish. Those who were not there had admitted to selfishness in the very recent past. This one admission led to a really open, honest discussion, a dive into the Bible to see that selfishness was not a characterisitic of the early, early church, and a discussion on what to do (these posts are part of that solution).
So what causes us to be so selfish? First, our culture.
Imagine that there are 100 children on a playground. It’s snack time, and the teacher hands out cookies. She has 100 cookies. She gives 6 of the children 50% of the cookies–6 kids have 50 cookies to split between them. She gives the other 94 children the other 50 cookies. Pretty absurd, right? Well, that’s what the global economic picture is like. The US population makes up about 5-6% of the world population, but we consume 50% of the world’s resources. If you own one car, you are wealthier than 92% of the people on earth. It’s been said that one American, in one month, consumes the same amount of resources as 520 Ethiopian people. We live in a greedy, covetous, materialistic culture.
Think about the advertising we’re blasted with everyday. We’re told that we suck if we don’t have the latest model car, the latest model computer, the latest model gaming system, the latest whatever. And most of us fall for it. How many thousands of dollars pass from our bank accounts to stores on things we want (not need)? Way more than we’d like to admit.
This selfishness has bled over into the church–and is Satan’s most effective tool in our culture for lulling Christians into a spiritual stupor. We can now shop for a church like we shop for underwear. If you don’t like something in one church, just go to another… or go to several. Be fed, be catered to, be doted on, be pampered. As long as a church offers what you like, right?
Since when is church about what we like? Consumerism, materialism, and selfishness have invaded our churches, and have invaded our faith. And it has done a lot of damage…
Jesus once told the story of a wealthy man who had way more than he needed. He had a choice–to be generous with what he had, or to be greedy. He chose greed–he decided to tear down his warehouses and build bigger ones, retire early, and take it easy. The story doesn’t have a happy ending. Look what Jesus said happend in Luke 12:20-21,
But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
The word Jesus used for fool literally means “out of one’s mind.” It’s like God tells the guy, “You’re crazy! You think life is all about you. You’re out of your mind. Now, you’ll be out of your life.”
Are we out of our minds? I think we must admit that we are. Many of us are falling for the lures of our culture hook, line, and sinker… and it has invaded our faith. We have more than enough materially, and many in our world go without. We have more Bible studies, small groups, church programs for every age and group imaginable. Most people don’t have a Bible. The fact is that many of us are living lives that look just like everyone elses: we’re striving for the American “dream” (which is really a nightmare), we live just at or above our means, and we’re accumulating a lot of junk.
To break from selfishness, we must allow God to break our attitudes and mindsets… and then we must break from our culture. More on that in a later post…
Leave some feedback: how has our culture made you selfish?
Tomorrow, we’ll look at another reason for selfishness–busyness.