Bob  Burney

The Christian knows that God "causes all things to work together for our good" (Rom. 8:28) and that trials are one of the means God uses to mold us more into the image of His Son. Consider, for example, Romans 5:3-5: "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." The Christian understands suffering as producing perseverance, proven character and, ultimately, hope. And unlike the fleeting pleasures of this world (e.g., cheerleading), God's hope will not disappoint.

A similarly counter-cultural message comes from the book of James: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (1:2-4). Consider trials as "pure joy"—how can this be? Only by understanding that when the Christian's faith is tested, perseverance results. And ultimately Christians find themselves "mature and complete, not lacking anything." In other words, we can become hope-filled people rather than narcissistic grumblers suing for our "rights."

The ultimate example, of course, is our Lord Himself. Heb. 12:2-3 reminds us: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." If anyone's rights were wronged it was the Son of Man's. He willingly endured unspeakable injustices at the hands of sinful men. Jesus "humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:8). Therefore, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we do not grow weary and lose heart!

What are our children being taught by displaying such extreme narcissism as in the case of the rejected cheerleader in Yorktown, Texas? We're teaching them that they are the most important reality in the universe and, therefore, should always get what they want. We're confirming for them the truth of what happens when human beings try to live apart from God: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25). Isn't narcissism really the worship of created things, namely, oneself?

The story of the Yorktown freshman is a parable for our times. In it we see some of the devastating consequences of our "rights" oriented culture and what happens when narcissism replaces reason and, ultimately, Christian truth. The parable is also a challenge to us to respond to our present and future trials in a way that honors not self, but God.

Bob Burney

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio.

Be the first to read Bob Burney’s column.
Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.
Sign up today