Saturday, March 14, 2015
It’s All About Me
I dreamed that I was invited to a gala banquet honoring a famous philanthropist. I was dressed to kill and excited about making my grand entrance in the posh lobby of one of the most elegant downtown hotels where this ritzy affair was held. But to my dismay, as soon as I crossed the threshold, before the paparazzi could even snap my photo, a butler escorted me downstairs to the basement, to a small, dingy meeting room.
The room was already overcrowded with other guests who apparently also had not made the cut to be seated in the main ballroom. The chairs and benches along the narrow tables were already taken. There was also a sofa on one side of the table that could have easily seated four people, but a young woman was sprawled out there head to toe, occupying the entire couch.
The nerve! I thought angrily, then found that my thoughts had vocalized and I was berating the woman for taking up so much room. She ignored my tirade with an insolent sneer, so I managed to find a stool and barely squeezed it in by the corner of one of the tables and awkwardly sat down.
A waiter brought a tray of hors d’oeuvres, hardly deigning to acknowledge us as he hurried away to the more important guests in the main dining room. One of the guests seated at my table, who apparently fancied himself to be a gourmet chef and food critic, proceeded to take a bite of each of the different types of canapé, and attempted to impress us by announcing the spices and other ingredients used in each. Not that it did me any good – he sampled so many, leaving the bulk of each appetizer uneaten on his plate, that the tray was empty when it finally came my way.
A kitchen maid brought a vat of what was to be the main course. “Cheddar Welsh Rarebit,” the self-appointed food connoisseur pronounced. To me it looked and smelled like vomit. What a wasted evening, spending hours selecting the right ensemble and looking my best, only to be shuttled to this miserable room with these insufferable people, eating pig slop and straining my back sitting on this hard wooden stool.
Aha! I saw my chance as the rude young woman excused herself to go to the ladies’ room. I raced to her couch and promptly stretched out on it as she had done, even though several other guests huddled anxiously in the doorway looking for a place to sit.
As I awoke, I recalled the excellent sermon at our church the night before about the dangers of self. The three main enemies of the Christian are the world (Matthew 6:24; 16:26; Mark 4:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 6:14; 1 John 2:15-16); the devil (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:9), and self (Genesis 49:6; Titus 1:7; 2 Peter 2:10). But as the pastor said, “We’re often our own worst enemy.”
In the dream, I was invited to a banquet honoring another, yet in all my preparation and even at the event, it was all about me, without a single thought for the guest of honor. As a born-again child of God who has placed her faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), I am blessed to know that I am invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). In the meantime, I have the privilege of going to His house every week (Hebrews 10:25).
As I prepare for church, am I more concerned about how I look or about whether my heart is right to be in His presence? (Psalm 51:10; 139:24; James 1:23-25; 4:8) Am I participating in ministries there for my own self-justification, or to bless and edify others and glorify Him? (Matthew 6:1-4; Hebrews 3:12-14) Am I focused on the message, or is my mind wandering to what’s for lunch or how I will spend the afternoon? Even if I listen to the message, am I applying it to my own heart, or do I assume it’s meant for another?
It was fitting in the dream that I was seated in the worst location, as I had pridefully assumed I would be at the head table, and yet I had not a single thought during the dream about the person I was supposedly there to honor. Jesus warned us about taking the best seats at places of worship and wanting to be seen and admired as we pray, fast or tithe (Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18; 23:2-7; Mark 12:38-40). If we do that, our reward is from men and not from Him, for we have left Him out of the equation. But in the dream, instead of realizing I deserved my uncomfortable accommodations, I was filled with self-pity.
How quick I was to judge the young woman for her selfishness, thoughtlessness, and rudeness, only to act the same way when I had the opportunity. Even worse, I lashed out at her in angry words (James 1:26; 3:6). May we not pounce on the flaws of others while overlooking or excusing our own, often far worse, faults (Matthew 7:1-5).
God created and saved us to enjoy abundant life (John 10:10) in the here and now as well as eternal life with Him (John 3:16). He wants us to enjoy good things (Psalm 103:5; Proverbs 28:10; Matthew 7:11; Luke 1:53), including food, but like any other basic need or pleasure that is wholesome when used as God intended it, there is the danger that it can become a form of self-indulgence or even an idol (Matthew 6:25-33).
The food served in the dream was not to nourish or to delight but to impress. Instead of appreciating the host’s providing food for the guests, the food critic was more concerned about glorifying himself through his critique, and his selfishness spoiled the meal for the other guests. Not that I was any better – my selfishness in wanting to lie down on the couch kept other guests from being seated at all.
In the past month I have had several dreams about food, in strange combinations, in excessive amounts, or having to be discarded. I initially dismissed these as simply being hungry or having eaten too much before going to bed, until a variety of unusual symptoms made me realize that God was warning me to pay far closer attention to my diet. I had been self-indulgent in eating too much of the “king’s dainties,” (Proverbs 23:1-8; Psalm 141:4). Since eating simpler and more wholesome foods in smaller amounts, these symptoms are under much better control.
May we bear in mind that our self-righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and that in our own selves, we can do nothing (John 14:6; 5:30). We are saved not by anything we could do or merit by ourselves, but by His righteousness and His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). May we not look to elevate ourselves over others, but to have a servant’s heart (Matthew 23:12; Philippians 2:1-9). May we love God and love one another (Deuteronomy 6:5; 11:1,13; Luke 10:27; 1 John 4:7-8), dying daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) to the idol of self!
© 2015 Laurie Collett