Spiritual Bankruptcy

4:54 pm Christian living, narcissism

     In the January issue of Christianity Today, there was an article titled, Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral(p. 59).  Robert H. Schuller’s famous Crystal Cathedral was built on the foundation of self-esteem.  In a 1984 interview with Christianity Today, Schuller said that when he came to Garden Grove, California, in 1955, he asked himself, “What human condition exists here that I can have a mission to?”  His answer was “emotional hunger.”  “Because of that,” he said, “we have developed our present ministry.”
     This mega church filed for bankruptcy last October (2010).  It has experienced a 24 percent drop in donations and a $50–$100 million debt owed to more than 550 creditors. 
     The Schuller enterprise is filing for bankruptcy on more than one front.  It is spiritually bankrupt.  Its message trapped and isolated people in the self.  It helped fuel a culture a  narcissism.  The gospel of self-esteem failed. 
     What makes the Gospel relevant?  Man’s basic spiritual need has not changed through the centuries.  Man’s greatest spiritual need is salvation from sin and its consequences.  It is salvation from self.
     In Matthew 16:24, Jesus states, “…if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.”
     (1)  God calls us to self-denial.  Self-denial is forbearance from gratifying one’s own desires.  The old man is put to death (Col. 3:5).  We must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:12).  Peter instructs us to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11).
     (2)  Christ calls us to follow Him.  The new man in Christ is created by the redemptive power of Christ (Eph. 2:10).  The new man is shaped by pursuit of Christ’s example (I Pet. 2:21-25).  Paul stated it best, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  Our self-esteem is derived from the grace of God.  Paul said, ‘I am what I am by the grace of God” (I Cor. 15:10).  Paul was not a self-made man but a God-made man.
     (3)  We must “take up our cross.”  The Christian life is costly.  It demands our all.  We must be willing to sacrifice and suffer for Christ’s sake.  We truly become servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Self-seeking and selfishness are eliminated and selfless service takes precedence in one’s life. 
     The Gospel of self-esteem glorifies the self.  It offers up a batch of cheap feel good cookies for one to indulge in.  It leads to spiritual bankruptcy.  There is something better, but it is more costly.

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