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Saturday, March 12, 2005

My Addiction

After finding the Shocking version of John 4 earlier this week, I've been following Steve's reflections as his site has been deluged. First, in Overdose for an Applause Hog, he said this:
I have to admit, this kind of attention is kind of like what I'd imagine a hit of coke would be like: instantly addictive. My fundamental character defects are being self-centered, self-seeking, and believing "it's all about me," and any kind of praise and "Woo-hoo!" just feeds into this, as you might imagine.
I have a confession to make...this is so me.

I have felt this exact same thing as I have started to log my own thoughts here on See Life Differently. Success and adulation are addictive, and I want people to like me. And the better I can articulate things, the more likely I am to get the applause. I want people to think, "Wow. That was so profound." I want people to think, Christian is a deep thinker.

Why? Because, as the late Jack Miller would say, I am an "Approval Suck" - I crave the approval of others. And when you are talented and apply yourself, you can get it.

For a time. But fame is fleeting, just like beauty.

Yesterday, Steve was honest enough to reflect on that very thing, noting that the chart indicates he has enjoyed 14.5 out of his 15 minutes of fame. Once again, he is much more honest than I care to be.

You see, we have stats counter on our page too (and if it was high enough, you can bet I'd drop some innocuous comment about "how nice it is to see so many people visiting our site! Why just like week we had over blah blah blah numbers of visitors, and isn't it cool to know that the things we are saying are actually resonating with people! Well, we just have to give all the praise to God...").

Barf. Gag.

The reason why we don't show our counter is because its still low enough to reveal us for what we really are: basically insignificant.

And I desperately want to be significant. I want to matter. There are 7 billion people on this planet and I just want to be somebody's little messiah, the object upon which they lavish their worship and affection. That's basically what I was getting at in Hole in My Soul.


Here's the problem. You see, with just a little practice, confession begins to come easy. You can start to open up and take a good hard look at what's inside, and actually even reveal it to others (because let's face it - people like train wrecks; if I'm really honest, I can still get people to stare).

But what's truly difficult is to actually start to do something about it. And, once again, that's where the gospel comes into play.

Because Scripture tells me that I really am significant. But it stipulates the terms of my significance. It is entirely because of Christ - it has everything to do with who he is and what he has done; it has nothing to do with me, except to the extent that I will relinquish my claims of self worth and lean instead on the sufficiency of Christ. That's what faith is.

So I need to learn how to find my significance in Christ. And I'll be real honest one more time: it's really hard. I think most of the problem lies in me. I wish I could point to a 12-step program that makes the stars align and everything fall into place. But my sin is way to ingrained for a hollywood solution.

I think the only real means for change is to continually remind myself of the simple little truth of the gospel. Its all about my faith in Christ. That's what I need. I need to preach the gospel to myself daily, because the gospel is not just for salvation - its for daily living. That's where the Indicative vs. the Imperative comes into play - I need to learn to see the gospel freshly. I need to constantly be seeking to rediscover the gospel astonishment.

Everytime I do that, the addiction to myself weakens, and my affection for Christ strengthens. I think this is what Paul has in mind when he talks about dying to himself that he might live for Christ (Eph 4:22-24).

If I really want to write a good blog entry, I ought to find some way to connect back to the beginning and wrap the whole thing up with some literary flourish. But its late, I'm beat, and literary flourishes are just about ego anyway.

So there...I'll just end. Let's conclude by thinking about Christ instead of me. The beauty of the gospel is that God uses insignificant people to redeem those who are lost and change the lives of others.

From 2 Cor 4 (do yourself a favor and go read the whole chapter...)
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart....For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake...this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
-2 Cor 4:1,5,17-18
That's what its all about folks...


At 11:06 PM, March 12, 2005, Blogger Steve F. said...

You've paid me the highest compliment one blogger can pay another, my nouveau friend: you've reflected on my post, found truth about yourself, and had the balls to publish it in your own. Thank you.

In the community of recovery, there is a truism (among many): "you're only as sick as your secrets." One of the things I love about a goodly portion of the emerging church is that they are honest about what they're good at, and also about where the holes are, as well. That's what I heard in your posting - some fairly raw honesty - and it's good to hear.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers:

The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, "You too? I thought I was the only one"... (CS Lewis, "The Four Loves," chapter 4)

At 10:02 AM, March 13, 2005, Blogger Mark Traphagen said...

Ouch, hit the nail, not on its head, but into my head. I have to confess that to some extent my blogging is a prostituion of myself, standing on a virtual street corner and hoping someone will buy my wares.

When I find myself upset if I don't see any blog comments in my email inbox...I know I'm close to my disease.

At 10:03 AM, March 13, 2005, Blogger Mark Traphagen said...

And I meant to address that to Christian, not Steve...but Steve's comments where apropos as we..

At 10:44 PM, March 13, 2005, Blogger Brandon said...

Great post! I'm enjoying what you all have chosen to put on your blog immensely. It's good to peek in and see what fresh works God is doing in people's lives.


PS, for a fun verse, see Exodus 14:14 -- All the beautiful paradoxes of Christ's ministry summed up so early in the OT! :)


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