The Impacts of Grace: #2 My Perception of Myself

Posted by donna on October 1, 2019

The Roman poet Ovid wrote about Narcissus in Greek mythology. He was very handsome and very proud. When he saw his reflection in a clear still pool, he could not stop looking at himself, nor pull away. There he died of thirst or starvation, depending upon the version you read. The term narcissist is a word often used in today’s selfie-focused society. Perceived external beauty triumphs over inner beauty, integrity and character. To make ourselves better in all ways, we grace 2.jpgjust need to compare ourselves with someone “less” and believe the lie that we are better.

Grace has a way of bursting that bubble. As we saw last month, grace first impacts our perception of God. When we see who God is, when we understand His nature and His character, our focus on self shifts.

In the Parable of the Prodigal the elder son was angry at his younger brother’s return. He would not celebrate, he would not go into the party, even when the father came to him. He responded to his father with selfishness and self-focus;

“Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). There is a great deal of self-focus in this verse. There is a lot of entitlement. Grace has a way of shifting the focus away from self.

Grace impacts our perception of ourselves in three specific ways:

  1. Grace gives us a correct tool for measurement and comparison – the nature and character of God
  2. Grace exposes our failings at being the centre of the universe, a legend in our own minds
  3. Grace gives us hope, despite ourselves

Too often today, we fall head-first into the “Narcissus trap.” We begin to believe in the reflected image of who we see ourselves to be, rather than who we are in Christ. We begin to believe the “Narcissus lie,” that it is outer beauty that really matters. And, if we are not careful, we morph into Narcissus himself, we become narcissists and justify the trap and the lie we have bought into.

Grace helps us see beyond our own reflection, no matter how beautiful we may think that reflection is. Grace helps us see who God is and who we are in Christ. Grace helps us see the hope we have, that everyone has, in Christ.

Did you notice that it was the father who went out looking for the elder son in the parable? Even when rejected and an argument was made for entitlement, it was the father who responded with grace.

In this age of body-image fascination and online virtual avatar living, we may become societally pre-programmed towards narcissism, but we need not go there. To the beautiful, grace gives a better image to focus on. To the unlovely, grace gives a beauty no mirror or still pond could adequately reflect. The beauty of Christ, living through a transformed life, reflects that same grace to others. Grace impacts our perception of ourselves. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Living in grace, despite myself,

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Bill Allan
AGC President

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