One of the characteristics of the last days is a crippling and contagious love for self (2 Timothy 3:2). Many blogs and journal articles have been written in recent years about how the technological revolution has facilitated and advanced the epidemic of narcissism. The abandonment of a self-sacrificing sense of corporate duty that has established nations, built empires, and preserved democracy in two world wars today threatens those same nations and democracy itself.
Unfortunately, an inordinate love for self is a problem that has been in church form many years. In more recent years theological arguments have been developed to defend the proliferation of personal desire, pleasure, and preference in favour of a self-sacrificing love for others (Philippians 2:4-5). When Christians get the idea that religion is a personal pursuit and not also a corporate activity, then they treat church like a buffet dinner and pick and choose what they want out of it. When Christians believe the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel that God’s first wish is my happiness, then they can abandon the fellowship of the saints for their own pleasure and forget the mutual benefit of Christian fellowship.
The fact is, the saints need you as much as you need the saints (Hebrews 10:25), and Paul knew this. It was this burning sense of duty to the church that took the joy out of death for Paul. He welcomed the prospect of meeting death at the hands of the Roman justice system because he would be with Christ. But the joy of departing was removed when he realised the great need of the church on earth. His duty to the church trumped his personal—and holy—desire to be with his Saviour.
Reading: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”—Philippians 1:23-24