I may not be as great as I think I am.
I read an interesting statistic that says 80 percent of people consider themselves superior than those around them. I’ve recently become knowledgeable with a term called illusory superiority. It’s the term for the cognitive bias for people that overestimate their own abilities in relation to other people. I thought this was particularly interesting due to the age of social media and the perverse effects that narcissism is beginning to have on our society.
The whole idea of social media has recently intrigued me. The basis and basic functions serve as a very helpful tool for people to stay connected, yet people are the most disconnected than they have been in years. According to thinkprogress.org, “…a recent study has found San Diego State University (SDSU) psychology professor Jean M. Twenge analyzed data from nearly seven million adolescents and adults from across the country and found that more people reported symptoms of depression — including sleeplessness and trouble concentrating — compared to the 1980s.”
How can this be? If I were to scroll through Facebook or Instagram right now I would see a nice highlight reel of everyone’s life mixed in with some odd complaints or daily activities of those who post on these sites. Everything on social media would indicate (for the most part) that people are happy and lives are perfect. I think we are in an age that hosts an unprecedented amount of people who may be narcissistic and don’t even know it.
When I got into college I was clueless. I was in English 101 my sophomore year and we were given an article to read. It was about narcissism. At this point I had no idea what that word even meant. I literally read the whole article clueless as to what narcissism was. Was it terrorism? Was it hatred of one’s country? Was it being a Nazi? This is what I was thinking! All I knew is that according to the article there were a lot of negative consequences of being narcissistic.
People post about the meals they are eating. They post about the clothes they are wearing. They post about the grades they are making. They post pictures of themselves working out and on, and on, and on the list could go. The point is people actually think that their lunch is unique and more artistic than Bob’s lunch that he posted. I have always seen this as a little strange. Let me take a picture of my meal so everyone can like it! I guess I have never really understood why anyone would care. But, this is the reality for those around us and the imminent doom for the generations to come: “Stay relevant and interesting or be lame and lousy.”
It’s easy in this world to find our meaning and our purpose through other’s acceptance and opinions of us. I find myself doing this all the time. I will be playing basketball and I will miss a shot or do something really bad and find myself wondering if other people think I’m the biggest loser in the gym! But what’s the point to all of this? Here is the point: you are loved, you are an heir, and you are unique.
We get so lost and caught up in what others think of us. We have forgotten that we are already accepted. We have been tricked. Society says we are irrelevant unless we have 100 likes on Instagram but the Greatest One sent His Son to die for us. Society tells us that we must become famous but we are heirs to God’s glory. Society says we need to distinguish ourselves or be a face in the crowd but we are the chosen ones.
You are Loved
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We don’t need love, affection, and attention from the people whose love, affection, and attention shifts more than the Texas weather. Our God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us.
You are an Heir
Romans 8:16 says, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” We don’t have to strive for fame because we are children of the most Famous One. The most Famous One knows our name. The most Famous One knows me better than I know myself. The most Famous One knows each and every one of my hairs on my head. I am already famous.
You are Unique
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I don’t need to rise and thrive in a sinful world to set myself apart. I am already set apart. I am unique. I am part of the chosen race. I am already set apart.
More important than being popular with the world is to be popular with God. Quit wasting your time, your energy, and your effort trying to be popular with the world. I’ll say it again, quit wasting your time, your energy, and your effort being popular with the world. The hole that you are trying to fill through words of affirmation, retweets on Twitter, and hearts on Periscope will never be filled. You will reach those 100 likes and still feel empty. Shift your attention from the world and put your eyes on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We have a great cloud of witnesses that surround us. Instead of fixing our eyes on attention and fame, fix your eyes on the One who joyfully endured the cross for all of our sins including the vanity that consumes our society. Fix your eyes on the One that gave up His seat at the right hand of the throne of God to be ridiculed and spit on. We can do this because we are already loved. We can do this because we are heirs. And, we can do this because we are unique.