Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sin Disorder?

Yesterday there was a television show on (I don't know what the show was, one of the kids were flipping through the channels) that featured some type of social justice/motivational speaker. The channel remained on the screen just long enough for me to hear that according to this person, the stats in Canada say that two thirds of all Canadian teenagers would rather become famous, than to spend their life helping someone. While I can't verify the accuracy of that statement, it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

In our family we have an individual who, through no fault of their own, is going through a very painful and grievous separation and divorce. The party who has chosen to end the marriage is said to have what they call Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I'd never heard of this being an actual disorder before, but I guess these days there's a clinical disorder or 'ism' for just about any kind of personality/conduct/behavioral issue. It's interesting to read the definition of this disorder from a Biblical worldview, and as well to read the primary course of treatment: psychotherapy.

I realize that I'm old fashioned and actually believe what the Bible says about sin and how it manifests in people's lives, but from where I sit, this kind of behavior used to be called self-centeredness, selfishness, arrogance, pride and seeking the applause of men. The primary course of treatment used to be called repentance (and daily, if need be) and centering the Lord in one's life, to serve Him. Prayer, Bible study, being a part of a local church, surrounding oneself with strong, mature believers is also a part of that.

In thinking about this today I couldn't help but think of this passage:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Tim. 3:1-5)

In an effort to understand this a little better, I looked up the Greek language for this verse and found that there is just one word for that phrase in bold, and that is philautos. This is the only place it is used in Scripture, but there are numerous verses in Scripture that exhort the believer to be just the opposite of this, such as Romans 15:1-3 which makes it very clear that we're to put others before ourselves.

oh how do I love ME? let me count the ways...While men have always been sinners and the characteristics listed in that passage are quite common of unbelievers, the Scriptures tell us that such things will increase in frequency and intensity before the return of Christ. Not that we needed news headlines to interpret Scripture for us, but if you compare the social structure of our society from even 40 years ago, to the social structure today, you can see just how immoral things have become. And this is just the moral decline of one generation. It chills me to think what things might be like in 40 more years.

Yesterday in our Bible lesson in school (we're working through the life of Joseph, and in yesterday's lesson how he forgave his brothers after seeing them again so many years after they sold him as a slave) , the lesson goal stated is this "To understand that we can love other people only after we have accepted God's love and plan for our lives." So, we had a good opportunity to discuss the difference in the way unsaved people treat others, and saved people treat others. The one glaring difference between the saved and the unsaved is that those saved have a literal, deep and convicting sense of mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion - because we have been on the receiving end of that, from our Heavenly Father. While the unsaved may have some amount of experience in this on a person to person level, and may indeed even be compassionate, its not at all on the same level as being the recipient of such overwhelming grace and compassion from God.

It's disturbing to consider what a self-centered saturated society we really do live in. The pressure and influence on young people (who will be leaders some day, and passing on the wisdom they collect during this time) to take up the mantle of self-love and self-first is enormous and enormously destructive in this regard. As much as you try to weed it out of your own home and family, the influences are still there and the results are still obvious to a parent who's seen a change in their young person's behaviors and attitudes. It is a constant and often exhausting battle on several fronts, to keep our kids focused on the things that matter, the timeless truth of Scripture, and having a genuine servant's heart, rather than a self-centered one where ME comes first.

But this is what we do, no matter how tired we get, because these are the things that matter.