In “Iron Man”, Tony Stark embodied our cultural obsession for vanity, self absorption, power and wealth. A narcissist. However, after being assaulted he became more heroic. He endured suffering, empathized with others and took action to alleviate their suffering. After witnessing the depth of Stark’s transformation in “Iron Man”, I asked myself this thought provoking question: If a contented, self absorbed-cultural icon could change and become capable of such selfless acts of heroism, can I become less self absorbed and live a more selfless life in service to others?
(See Related Post: Selfless Narcissism)
My preoccupation with self is my powerful nemesis preventing me from being others-centered. I am self-absorbed by default, trying to prove my worth in a culture built on self-importance, wealth, image and pleasure. With so much of my time and energy consumed with self-interest and advancement, how can I serve others?
I confess that I can’t kick my narcissism. Breaking my tight-fisted selfishness requires severe power to oust let alone replace with a greater concern for others. So what can save me from my narcissism?
An Unwelcome Hero
Wham! My ego suffers a direct hit from a heavy fight-changing power punch. I’m staggering. That didn’t feel so good. Who was that?
Introducing: a heavyweight from first century Palestine. His fight against pride and selfishness has leveled history’s most powerful egotists. And if my narcissism entertains any possibility of winning this battle, it may want to refer to his perfect fight record. He beat on heavy contenders like disease, demons and death. They all tapped out. My narcissism has finally met its match.
His words for the egotists of his day hit hard. Leaders staggered after his public verbal assaults exposed their selfish abuse of power. They felt threatened by his powerful influence over the masses of people.
When these sinister legalists could no longer contend with him in the public ring, they secretly concocted false testimonies and accusations with the intention of killing him. He endured a mock trial, beatings, flogging and death by crucifixion.
But their evil intent was not able to lessen his resolve. He was able to endure his afflictions because he saw the greater danger to our narcissistic souls. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God’s arsenal of wrath targets our narcissism. No soul can escape. Jesus fought our narcissism in a most counterintuitive way. He humbled himself and died in our place, taking the wrath of God and man upon himself.
Death Blow to My Narcissism
Jesus rose from the dead and continues to beat on my narcissism today, repeatedly frustrating and thwarting my own self-exaltation. His spirit works through the Bible and people to confront my selfishness. He permits suffering to enter my life to humble me. He challenges me to not find my worth in recognition and wealth, or be consumed propping up my own image. He empowers me to think about and serve others.
I am glad this unwelcome hero is powerful and willing to fight my narcissism, pay its penalty and replace it with power to serve others.