Do you think the inventor of the forward-facing cell phone camera imagined the “selfie” craze of the past few years? If he (or she) knew anything about human nature, this obsession with taking and posting endless pictures of ourselves was clearly predictable. What else would I want to do with a camera on my phone? And, who doesn’t want to see how great I look all the time?
Just a few sad and troubling facts about selfies which came across the news wire in the past few weeks:
- The word “selfie” is now an official entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.
- A Polish couple fell off a cliff to their deaths trying to take a selfie.
- A French beach has banned cellphones so beachgoers will stop taking selfies to boast about being at the beach.
- A number of celebrities became outraged that their cellphones had been hacked and nude selfies posted on the web. (Easy solution to this problem: Stop taking naked selfies!)
Certainly, the selfie craze exposes the fact that many people today are self-obsessed. But this is nothing new. Humankind has always been driven by the sin of pride and an overly inflated self-worth. When people reject God as Father and center of their lives, the only real replacement is self! We come out of the womb self-obsessed–putting a cellphone in our hands doesn’t cause the problem. This technology, linked with the world wide web, just proclaims to the world how self-focused we really are.
So, I had a brainstorm on this very irritating selfie subject while I was teaching Sunday School today. We were studying the first chapters of the Book of Hosea, where the prophet Hosea is instructed to marry an adulterous woman (Gomer). Why in the world did Hosea have to marry this woman (and even have adulterous children)? Because God used Hosea’s marriage and family as an object lesson to show the Israelites their real selves. On the outside they looked like the people of God; on the inside they were adulterers–loving and serving idols instead of the one, true God.
Which led me to this crazy thought: What if all new smartphones came with technology that took a selfie of our real selves? Instead of snapping a picture of our external bodies, the camera would reveal only our real selves. The whole world would be treated to hideous photographs of sin and wickedness! They would see us for what we really are (outside of Christ) — adulterers and idolaters of the worst kind. It wouldn’t be pretty and no one would be thought of as beautiful (or a hottie). That’s when the selfie obsession would come to a screeching halt.
Thankfully, even without that fantastical technology, this crazy self-promotion and self-glorification can come for the end. For the Christian, out selfie obsession comes to a halt with the following words from the Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The only way to end our self-obsession is radical Christ-esteem. Instead of putting our selfies on display, the Christian longs to show others Jesus. Outside of Christ, there is nothing to see here! The life we live in the flesh is always to be lived “in Christ” and not in and of ourselves.