By Dan O’Deens /    January 16, 2021

Narcissism is selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has seemingly awakened a sleeping giant within the walls of Christendom.  Has the Church become the ‘Frog In The Kettle?”  We have existed for so long in comfortable water that when the heat turned up, we were oblivious to the dangerous and perilous culture around us?  We can either jump out of a perverse culture or remain and die.

The role of a church is not to tell us what we want to hear or to offer all the programs we like. The role of the church is to make disciples of Jesus. When we get whatever we want from church, it becomes about us. Not about our growth. Not about our God. Not about the God of Mission.

I am privileged to walk with some crazy smart people who have taught me so much about the God of Mission.   One of those men is my Jordanian friend Nabil Bandak.  He was walking our team through some great Biblical teaching from a ‘Non-Western’ worldview.  Remember the Christian God is not “American”, He loves the whole world.

The Bible and Mission – The mission of God is the key that unlocks the whole grand narrative of Scripture. God is on a mission to reconcile the whole creation to himself through Christ by the Cross (Col. 1:20), and the whole Bible can be read in light of this overarching, governing perspective. This is The Story, the grand universal narrative that stretches from creation to new creation, and accounts for everything in between.

The God of Mission – The driving will of the one true God is to be known throughout his whole creation as the Lord God, the Holy One who is made incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. This monotheism often appears in contrast against the exposure, rejection and ultimate destruction of false gods. (Christian Nationalism)

We ask, “Where does God fit into the story of my life?” when the real question is where does my life fit into this story of God’s great mission.

Everybody matters to God.

God has never made a person that he didn’t love. And because God cares, we must care.

You don’t change people by protests. You change them by love. Society is changed one life at a time. God has put specific people in your life that he expects you to share the Good News with. You’re the only Christian some people know.  We need to show God’s love and live in a way that brings credit to God’s name.

In this life and this world that we currently reside in let’s embrace this truth: The Jesus centered life is the only cure for Christian Narcissism.   It’s time to usher in the 2nd Reformation.  The first Reformation was about Creeds.  It’s a new day.  This Reformation must be about Deeds.   If the sun is to rise on this new day it may be helpful to guard against 4 tactics of the enemy that is dividing the Church.

Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – either online or on social media, in the real world, or both.

The cancel culture seems to promote the “canceling” of people, brands, shows and even churches due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies.   Now is not the time to leave.  Now is the time to come together under the unifying umbrella of the Love of Jesus.   Love unites it does not divide.

Difference Distancing

Differing opinions, falling out, disagreeing, not seeing eye to eye is not new to the Church.  Avoiding conflict always seems to be the easy default. Dale Carnegie, stated The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. There may be an element of truth to this.

Other people may be wrong, but let’s at least try to understand them. Success in dealing with people requires a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.  To do that, we need to communicate. Almost as bad as having the disagreement is not being able to talk about it.

Why do we run?  The easy way out seems less confrontational.  Our gut tells us to distance.  But, running away doesn’t teach you to grow as a person. It doesn’t teach resilience or perseverance or strength, which are all important qualities in life.

The conflict has not been resolved.  Problems are never solved by running.   They will wait for your return or rear their ugly heads in the new spaces that you have fallatiously assumed would be conflict free.

Within the Church we experience what I call the ‘exchange exodus.’  We know it best as the revolving door or people are coming in the front door but exiting out the back door more so than coming in the front.

This culture of “church shopping” has wrecked the ability of the church to effectively and efficiently carry out the ministry of the Gospel and the mission of Jesus. As church people hop from one building to another, churches find themselves unconsciously battling for the saved and retaining the disgruntled instead of seeking the lost.

Offended Obsessed

We have become weak.  We are over-sensitive and we have not defined being offended well from a biblical perspective.  Have we taken time to listen?  Have we worked harder to understand rather than to be understood?  The ‘stronger’ brother is actually the ‘weaker’ brother when we are blind-sided by our own preference and ideas and set them up as ‘Biblical’ when they may or may not be accurately exegeted.

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11. 

The people of God have become more willing to lose relationship in order to be “right.’ Can we co-exist when we do not agree?  Can we love people when we do not see eye to eye?  Do we even really care to posture our response for the opportunity for reconciliation or is being right so important that we become willing to part ways?

These questions may help you navigate the importance of relationships.

  • Why does this bother me?
  • Why am I so bent out of shape over this?
  • What is the big deal?
  • Will this even matter in a day or a week or when this crisis is over?  

We must get to the core of why we are so upset. The only thing we gain by being offended is chaos on the inside.

  • Are we letting other people steal our joy? Joy is our choice!
  • Am I easily offended because there’s an element of truth to the comment or action?
  • Am I easily offended because someone said something I just don’t agree with?

Diversity Dialogue

Diversity, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is defined as “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.”  Diversity usually brings to mind race, sex or age, but ‘ideas’ needs to be included in the discussion within the local Church.

Ed Stetzer says diversity is biblical, sacrificial, humble, intentional and beneficial.  Perhaps the idea we need to understand best comes from Brian Leander when he states,

“If the mission of the Church is the formation of one body out of many people who were previously divided socially, then it is reasonable to expect that local churches would be suitable examples of reconciliation, conflict resolution, and intercultural mission effectiveness.”

The essence of the Church is to be CHRISOCENTRIC.  Jesus is both the head and the center.  He is LORD whether we make Him Lord or not.  And JESUS IS LOVE.   In the end, if our diversity causes us to focus on anything apart from Jesus and LOVE we will find ourselves in a culture that is divided rather than united.  How can the world be united when the Church is divided?

I am not advocating for being so open minded that our brains fall out or even being ‘neutral’.  We are NOT neutral as humans.  We have opinions, values, experiences and worldviews.  We assume our way is the right way and that means other ways are the wrong way. Perhaps. But, perhaps not.  Not the point!

The point is, can we LOVE in the midst of diversity and difference?

Jesus is LOVE and LOVE is the answer.