Greek mythology spoke of Narcissus who spurned all the women who fawned after him (finding his beauty intoxicating), and who eventually was cursed to yearn only for an image of himself without any ability to embrace or enjoy or commingle with anyone outside his own frozen image of himself in his mind after he saw himself reflected in a pool of water he bent over one day to drink from. He was forever cursed to only see the image of his desire every time he drank, forever thirsty for what beauty suggested, but never able to slake the incessant yearning that beauty evokes. Thus, loosely interpreted, Narcissism has come to mean those too much enamored with themselves, those who look inward and backward at the creature rather than the Creator, and therefore those who can never satisfy their aesthetic needs (for only God can satisfy or quench our gigantic and incessant thirst for beauty). And of course, there is Lucifer (Satan) which became a little too aware and smitten by his own beauty. The fact that his beauty was a reflected beauty from being the covering cherubim over God’s glory I guess escaped him; pride has a way of making a dummy out of a genius. Turned into himself, the limitations of his creature can only dead-end; his now self-absorbed (selfish) thinking keeps him trapped forever in a shell of pride, isolation, and delusion.
Now let’s go back to the Garden of Eden, and therein is Adam and Eve, made, indeed, in the image of God (imago Dei). When they sinned and fell, immediately they noticed they were naked and ashamed, something only eyes averted backwards and inward, and not forward and outward could detect. After conversion we are characterized as “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” and again, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (Hebrews 12:2, partial, emphasis mine; 2 Corinthians 3:18, emphasis mine, both verses New American Standard Bible). Fixing our eyes and beholding suggest direction of view and viewpoint. Just as
Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, so what we affix our eyes upon ultimately determines our fate. The imago Dei every person is born with will always be inadequate for God’s purposes, regardless of how well one might still retain a semblance of the Creator who made him (simply because He has left off tending to that fading image). Its beauty is a reflected and imprinted one which must eventually dead-end because it is no longer attached to the everlasting source of all animation; thus even when someone, unsaved, comes to up to us walking within the fullness of their original imago Dei, it is a shadow, an illusion, and ultimately outright rebellion and deceit expressed. God has cursed all those who attempt to be all they can be within their first Adam-selves (simply because he has cursed everyone born of Adam, even those who fail to be all they can be within that progeny), and He has moved onto the progeny of those born-again of the second Adam and is now only blessing those being re-imaged by Jesus Christ. A heathen who appears to walk godly is beside the point; if he is misguided or outright deceitful, perhaps only God can say, but he is clearly outside of God’s redemptive plan, and if that person does not OBEY and become saved, his filthy-rags-righteousness is as worthless as filthy rags are.
Now it seems to me that we were originally designed to be extroverted, but the fall of mankind, being an implosion of our being, inverted our forces and redirected our vision inward. Shyness and shame and backwards-thinking all seems to be our normal state of being today; we are all introverts. And introversion, especially incessant introversion (which is what we all are because of this now disfiguring bent inward) tends to selfishness and self-absorbed consideration and morbid introspection. We are narcissists, spawns of Satan,
Lot’s wife; we have become the image we gaze at most. Many preachers today say we need to know who we are in Christ, and yes, I will not deny that there is some truth in that thought, however, I think it is misguided advice for many because it is placing the cart in front of the horse. What we really need to know is—not so much who we are in Christ—but, in fact, who Christ is. Yes, there will be time enough to learn our position in relationship to Him in due time, but I would suggest that ALL the focus be on Him (then our relationship to Him will be a byproduct of that and will virtually take care of itself as we tend directly to Him). We turn to stone, pillars of salt, inordinate lovers of self, or a perfect replica of Jesus Christ; it all depends on what we affix our gaze and attention upon. Jesus restored mankind’s imago Dei, but only in the new creation progeny line, after a born-again experience can the residue of our old and broken imago Dei be displaced by the one healthy and perfect imago Dei resident within Christ—who then becomes resident in us—and thereby restores our imago Dei.