I happened across an interview with Jennifer Lawrence the other day where she was asked, “Do you believe there’s an afterlife?”
Her answer was, “No. That’s a reaction to innate narcissism. To think that we don’t have to cease to exist.”
This year I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m going to call the Uriah Heep Mentality.
Uriah Heep is one of my favorite, creepy villains of all time. Charles Dickens created him to be the thorn in David’s side in David Copperfield.
[Heep’s face] was quite as cadaverous as it had looked in the window, though in the grain of it there was that tinge of red which is sometimes to be observed in the skins
of red-haired people. It belonged to a red-haired person—a youth of fifteen, as I take it now, but looking much older—whose hair was cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in decent black, with a white wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the throat; and had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly attracted my attention, as he stood at the pony’s head, rubbing his chin with it, and looking up at us in the chaise.
His hands are always wet, cold, and clammy, like a dead fish, and his catch phrase is calling himself “humble” (or ‘umble) over and over again while being a sycophant to everyone around him.
He’s the type of guy you might feel sorry for except that he overdoes the false humility, and later you find out he’s been sneaking around behind everyone’s back to make sure they come to ruin so that he can own them all in the end. His hypocrisy is deceptively sneaky and takes a suspicious David and a wise Mr. Micawber to figure out the years of ingratiation, lies, and manipulation that went into his scheme.
The sad thing is, I’ve met Christians with Uriah Heep Mentality.
Christians, who, like Jennifer Lawrence pretend to be “so very ‘umble” by saying that God doesn’t love them, God doesn’t want them, they’re worthless, they’re wretched sinners, and they deserve to be trampled upon and have nothing good happen to them their entire lives. Maybe you don’t realize it in the beginning, but you realize it was false humility all along when they show you how they really think.
These Christians can also find themselves the most sensitive at the slightest perceived “attack.” Because how dare others criticize when I am trying so hard and am doing so much better than everyone else. The obsequiousness is often sneaky arrogance disguised under a clammy, skeleton costume.
Don’t get me wrong. Yes, we are wretched sinners. Yes, we do nothing to earn our salvation. Yes, we deserve nothing but hell. Yes, we should bow on our faces before a great and powerful God. (1 Tim. 1:15, Rom. 6:23, 14:11)
He does not choose to leave us there. Uriah Heep Mentality forgets all the other verses that talk about us being inheritors with Christ Jesus, a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, that the Lord delights over us with singing, that we are bought and redeemed with all of His blood, and that heaven and the kingdom is our inheritance! (Rom. 8:14-17, Heb. 2:7-9, Zeph. 3:17, Is. 44:22, Luke 12:32)
Does the Christ who died to pay for us want us to go around wringing our hands calling curses down upon ourselves and feeling like bruised victims waiting to assume the worst about everyone and everything because crushing ourselves makes us feel better? Maybe this isn’t your motivation, or maybe when you peel back the skeleton costume, you reveal that it is. ❤
It’s actually really super ‘umbling to stop and say, “I’m loved by the King of Kings. I’m His princess or prince. I am made in His image, the greatest part of His creation, His masterpiece. Jesus calls me His brother or sister and His friend. I have His same power in me. Nothing can stop me from receiving God’s love.” (Deut. 10:17, Ps. 86:5, 36:7, John 15:9-17, Rom. 8:37-39, Gen. 1:27, Eph. 1:19-20, 2:10)
Do those things make you squirm? They shouldn’t. They’re taken directly from Scripture. See all those verses above.
Why do they make you squirm? Is it because you’ve been bullied and rejected and downtrodden all your life, and you’re afraid to believe in the Sovereign God’s love for you? Can I recommend Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick for that, just to sit and seep in the beauty and boosting love of the gospel? He would have died just for YOU, Christian. If you had been the only human being on earth. ❤ (Matthew 18:12)
Or is it because you actually believe in a works religion, where you have to keep maiming yourself and brow-beating yourself until you’re “holy enough” that the Lord God will accept you, and it pains you to see other Christians happy and rejoicing in their salvation and inheritance and greatness in Christ? (1 Kings 18:27-29, Phil. 1:14-17, Mt. 23:1-4, Lk 18:10-14, Rom. 14,
Believe. Doing comes after. Believe that it’s nothing of you. That you could never follow all the rules. That you could never be perfect. That you have been lifted up out of that mud that you like to throw yourself into. That your sins are forgiven, and God doesn’t even see them any more. That Christ’s blood is all He sees, and you are hidden in Christ. That He will sanctify those stubborn sins step by step and you don’t have to go on hating yourself to make Him like you better.
Christ would love you even if your sins didn’t change.
(Phil. 1:6, John 10:28-29, Deut 7:7-10, Is. 54:4-8, Hos 14:4-7, 1 Tim. 1:15-16)
Does that feel like heresy?
It’s not. Scripture says so. And if His love was dependent on your sins, then you would have some control over your own salvation. The life on earth is but a breath. You are saved – you have eternity in heaven. His love is everlasting, and it doesn’t disappear in this life-breath when you fail. (Jer. 31:3, Ps. 144:4)
And His love doesn’t lessen AFTER salvation, when you keep messing up. If He loves you when you did nothing to deserve it, why should you somehow change it like a lever later based on the speed or efficiency of your sanctification?
You should want to quit sinning just because you love Him so much that you want to obey Him with all your heart, not because you think you can force your own holiness and bring yourself into better standing with God. We are supposed to strive for holiness, but we don’t do that on our own. We do that leaning on and resting in and being with and enjoying God. Otherwise, we fail. (John 14:15, Mt. 11:28-29, Ps. 37:4, Eph. 1:19-20, Rom. 8:11, Gal. 5:16)
It’s arrogance to assume you can control any part of Him, and that you can affect the Almighty God’s love for you – that you can control it with your own works and life. His love is steady like the sun, and its existence nothing to do with you. It IS and it changes you merely because it is His good pleasure to do so. It will never change, never stop, never lessen, and never disappear. David’s wife Michal was chastised for stopping David from dancing and rejoicing in the Lord in what is the ultimate story of Uriah Heep Mentality. (2 Samuel 6:14-23) It is not narcissistic to rejoice that you are an eternal, spiritual being as well as a physical one, to look forward to eternity and to your glorification in a righteous body, seated up with God in the heavens. His blood has paid for your place there, and He wants you to live like you know it! (Eph. 2:6, Ps. 63:3, Hk. 3:17-18,
BASK in that. Enjoy that. Be happy and rejoice. Put your tiara on your head and dance around in it like you would the sunshine on a summer day. It’s your gift, and instead of shoving the gift away, you can live in the light of that glory.
God’s love and kindness
will shine upon us
like the sun that rises
in the sky.
On us who live
in the dark shadow
this light will shine
to guide us
into a life of peace.