September 10, 2017

The Ministry of John the Baptist, part 3

Passage: Luke 3:1-22

Someone has coined an interesting, new theological term—“narcigesis.” It’s the combination of the term “narcissism” and “exegesis.” Narcissism is self-love or self-centeredness (i.e., excessive pride), and exegesis is the explaining of the text of Scripture. So when a person is claiming to preach the Bible, but his own experience becomes the focus of every doctrine, every command and every story, he’s guilty of narcigesis.

The one who coined the term (Chris Rosebrough) described it in this way:

Pastors and Bible teachers have mastered the art of allegorizing all of the characters and details of every Bible story in order to make the stories about YOU. And, since YOU struggle with setbacks, problems and challenges that keep YOU from achieving YOUR maximal greatness, that means that the Bible is really all about giving YOU a road map that YOU can follow to achieve YOUR dreams and God-given destiny.

When you constantly insert yourself into the text, and the main concern of any text is yourself, you are a narcigete. When you read Scriptures through the lens of your own biases, opinions, feelings, experiences, impressions and dreams, you are a narcigete. When your interpretations of Scriptures are self-focused, self-defined, and self-authenticating, you are a narcigete. When you become the subject and hero of every Bible story and parable, you are a narcigete.

Unfortunately, many preachers today are narcigetes. Their sermons are mostly about themselves, partially about their audience, and very little about what the original author of the passage intended. Our culture seems to be more self-centered all the time, and that tendency is showing up in the preaching we hear at church as well.

John the Baptist was the exact opposite of a narcigete. He didn’t preach much about himself. His preaching was all about the coming of the Messiah and preparation for his arrival. In the Gospel of John, he points to Jesus and says, “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30). The subject of John’s preaching was not himself; it was Christ.

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