When Authenticity & Narcissism Clash

Recently, in one of my infrequent, needs to be more frequent, what’s the state of my heart personal inventory type moments, I asked myself, what’s my motivation for putting stuff on my blog? And as I thought about that, this quote from Martin Luther came to mind: “The Christian is simultaneously both sinner and saint.” And then playing off “The Most Interesting Man in the World” Dos Equis beer commercial, I said to myself, “I don’t always like Martin Luther, but when I do, he got it right!” On this one, I agree with Luther. I think there is a sense in which the believer is simultaneously both sinner and saint, and in the following qualified sense, I think Luther got it right.

Until the permanent glorification phase of my salvation, when I’m not only delivered from sin’s penalty and power, but sin’s presence as well, until the time when I’m no longer part of a fallen race in a fallen place; even the best of my intentions, even my truly good and honorable motives, will be at least partially tainted by sinful character, our Adamic rebellion inheritance is that pervasive. “Total Depravity,” in the true biblical sense of that Calvinistic term, doesn’t mean that you and I are as bad as we could be, it means that all facets of our being have been significantly and adversely affected by the Fall. However, now as Messiah believer’s we have a new identity in relation to sin, it no longer fundamentally defines us. In a positional sense, it’s no longer an intrinsic part of who we are. So in light of this redeemed personhood, in light of this new standing, if we’re trusting Jesus for eternal life, instead of saying that we’re a sinner saved by grace, in a present behavior sense, it’s actually more accurate to say we’re saints who still sin; because obviously we’re not sinless but hopefully we’re sinning less. That kind of statement reflects both our new position and the less than perfect nature of our current conduct.

So all of this to say, I blog about stuff I’m truly passionate about, and often I use bombastic overstatement and hyperactive hyperbole to express that passion. Do I want you to think well of me when I do this, of course I do. Who doesn’t like to be liked? And so in that way, like you, I can easily cross a narcissistic line.

But here’s the thing, what I’m really into is Spirit-led authenticity. We all know when our sincere questions and concerns are being deflected, when we’re being handled. We rightly resent that, it feels condescending and patronizing. Are there times when we miss social cues, absolutely, none of has totally arrived in how we do relationships. Yet those of us who’ve been around the block a time or two can smell disingenuous bull scubula a mile away. (Scubula is the Greek word Paul uses in Philippians 3:8 to speak of the worthlessness of his former status and accomplishments in comparison to his present Messianic identity). The word literally means excrement!

Bottom line: Until we get to Heaven, to some extent, authenticity and narcissism will continue to clash. Nevertheless, as we courageously resist socially acceptable and politically correct evangelical superficiality, as we cooperate with the Spirit, we can shoot for a quality of forthrightness and civility that truly honors God.




One thought on “When Authenticity & Narcissism Clash

  1. So true John. Thanks for honestly expressing that tension that we all deal with, yet would like to pretend doesn’t exist.


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