I stood in the middle of St. Mark’s Square surrounded by pigeons and cell phones. A sea of people hoping to capture the elusive perfect photo of themselves amidst some of the most beautiful architecture and artwork in the world. Self absorption was no where more apparent to me than that weekend in Venice last fall. Dozens and dozens of people flitting from place to place just to post themselves all over social media. Hashtag “me me me.” Never mind the thousands of years of history surrounding them that has stood and will stand long after they’re gone. As if they give it meaning by their fleeting presence.
But it struck me that it was, in fact, meaning they were searching for. As they moved from place to place, some with a change of clothes and new make up for the next landmark, it was meaning they were desperately trying to attain. A self they were desperately attempting to create. A self they desperately wanted to be worshiped. With likes on Insta. With comments on Facebook. With friends and followers fawning over their beauty and worldly gain. It may have been overly flagrant in Venice, but it’s no different here.
Some would estimate we’ve lived in a post-Christian society for about 100 years now. Our culture is secular to the core. We have been taught it’s up to us. We have been duped into believing we’re the master of our own destiny. We have been told our self-esteem is of utmost importance. We have been sold the idea we’re awesome, we’re amazing, and our happiness is all that matters. Essentially, we have bought into the idea that we are the center of the universe and we aren’t letting it go. It’s all about me. I’m what matters. And if anything gets in the way of me being happy, I can cut that out of my life, move on, and redefine me. Always on my terms. Whenever I decide.
Sadly, the majority of our Christian churches have not escaped these secular philosophies and ideologies. If we bother to remain loosely Christian at all, which many have forsaken outright, we trade the God of scripture for a God that fits us. We focus more on what we can experience through Worship than actually worshiping Christ for who he is and what he has done. We seek the gifts of the Spirit, rather than actually knowing the Holy Spirit and his role in the trinity. We live for spiritual highs and when those dissipate, we seek the next fix we believe we need to continue a faithful walk with the Lord. And if we look deeply, we’ll see it’s not about Him at all, but all about us. What we feel. What we think. Our experience.
Even secularists cannot escape the God-given mandate to worship, so we do. We have traded God-centered services for man-centered performances. Our songs are about us. Our sermons are about us. Our prayers are about us. We sit in pews on Sunday listening to what is theologically equivalent to a TED talk, just to hear someone tell us that God is madly in love with us. There is just enough scripture to back that up, but we seldom dive deeper into what the Bible really says. We seldom if ever stare straight into the reality that we are wretched sinners in need of a savior. Because, that’s not comfortable. So the God we worship becomes “my Jesus” and, surprise, that Jesus is often just like us.
The problem with secularism and any manifestation it morphs into, including any false gospel we believe, is it doesn’t save. It doesn’t just not save us from hell, it doesn’t save us from this life on earth either. It doesn’t offer anything that will ultimately fulfill us. Oh, it promises our fulfillment, our happiness, our ultimate purpose, but it never delivers. Because it can’t. It’s as empty as we are. In fact, it is us. And when we realize that; when we understand there is no foundation other than the one we have defined, it falls apart. And we fall apart.
Drugs. Depression. Divorce. Suicide. Anxiety. Broken homes. Broken dreams. Broken families. Broken us.
Because when we worship ourselves, we will ultimately fall, just like every other idol on this earth. Our Creator has set it up that way. He has given us one person to worship and that is Jesus Christ, his Son. The only one worthy of worship. The only one who can redeem our sin. The only one strong and mighty enough to withstand the weight of our need for significance. The only one who can offer us an identity worthy of wanting. The only one who can save us from ourselves.