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It’s a Selfie World

It’s a Selfie World

“A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone.” a

It’s a selfie world out there. Instagram has enriched itself with millions self-portraits. Justin Bieber may have popularized it, but it’s now a world-wide phenomenon. Amateur photographers hold in their hand the perfect camera. Change the camera to self with a simple touch, smile, and post!

I am not interested in going on an anti-selfie campaign. People are creative. They are made after a creative God. Sometimes selfies incorporate a level of art that is truly remarkable. God likes to showcase his creation. And so at times showcasing a picture of ourselves to the world is not harmful. Sometimes it is humorous. Sometimes it is pathetic. Sometimes I don’t know what to think of it.

When mom takes a picture of her pregnant belly, I see life. When a young lady takes a picture of herself with her new engagement ring, I see joy. When a guy takes a picture showcasing his new pair of athletic shoes he worked hard to earn, I say, “kudos.” Now, when young ladies begin to display their body parts that are meant to be displayed only to their future or current husbands, I say, “what in the world are you thinking!” When a young boy takes 15 pictures a day of himself in every imaginable pose, I say, “where’s your father?”

So, yes. Selfies can be great. And they can also be remarkable testaments to a pathetically self-serving and self-glorifying culture.

And then there are people who take selfies to a whole new level.

Well, for most people, that compulsion is relatively harmless, but for 19-year-old Danny Bowman, it reportedly led to an attempted suicide.

The British teen spent up to 10 hours each day taking photos of himself on his iPhone, the Daily Mirror reports. The addiction became so debilitating that he dropped out of school and retreated into his home for six months.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t I wanted to die,” Bowman told the Daily Mirror. “I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.” b

It’s a selfie world. It’s a world where self-promotion and an unquenchable desire to find meaning finds a little bit of satisfaction in a selfie. But then that temporary satisfaction cannot be quenched and the search for more satisfaction ensues until one realizes that meaning is simply not possible.

So, a few thoughts to the selfie culture–especially those in the church.

First, always examine the purpose of your selfie. What am I trying to represent to the world about the God I worship? Owning things is not sinful. But the central issue has to do with the role you place on these things in your life.

What is this selfie communicating to the possibly hundreds or thousands of people who will come across this picture? Why do I think that a certain part of my body needs to be seen by others; some that I never met personally, and others that I will see tomorrow in class?

Second, by all means don’t read this as a crusade against selfies. Take them. But take them to show the world how beautiful we become when we are in Christ. “Look at me. You see my joy in my new tie? If you know me you know that I treasure deeply the God who gave me this tie.”

Third, take fewer selfies. Period.

Fourth, when in doubt about the potential consequences about a selfie in a certain a pose or wearing a certain outfit, don’t post it. Keep it as private reminder of your self-restraint.

Finally, let’s turn a little of our attention from self-portraits to familial portraits. You know what the world knows little about: familial happiness. The abortion rate and the growing trend of unbiblical divorces continue to rise. Talk about an ugly selfie! We have in our society a pitiful view of what joyful family life is like. Use your camera–a great gift from God, by the way–to honor others. Put pictures of your brother or sister accomplishing something. Show the world that your life is not just centered around yourself, but on others also.

So, don’t give up your selfies. I will add a little Instagram heart to them when I see them. But for every selfie you take, make sure to take three non-selfies. And then show the world that the world of me is also about you.

  1. Wikipedia definition  (back)
  2. See full article: http://time.com/35701/selfie-addict-attempts-suicide/  (back)

Why Most Christians Should Use Facebook!

It is likely that you are a Facebook user. In fact, over one billion people are on Facebook. And of course, it is likely that you are reading this article because a friend linked to it on their Facebook page. So the majority of you do not need to be persuaded. The small and insistent bunch that will not succumb to the technological and peer pressure may do well to continue on a perpetual Facebook fast. But there is another group of Christians out there that simply haven’t joined for lack of knowledge of the benefits Facebook can offer. As a friend, you may have to print them a copy of this piece, or send them a link via e-mail.

The reason I did not state “all Christians” in the title of this article is because there are legitimate reasons for some Bible-believing Christians to stay away from this tool. And that is precisely what Facebook is: a tool. I agree with Dr. Al Mohler that “Social networking is like any new technology.  It must be evaluated on the basis of its moral impact as well as its technological utility.” We are all called to be stewards of God’s gifts. Money is a tool for good, but the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. In like manner, Facebook can be a tool for good, and I am arguing that if used wisely it will be.

I am in the redeeming business. I usually prefer to begin with how something can be redeemed before I talk about its dangers. Dr. Mohler suggests ten ways for safeguarding the social networking experience. You can read them. They are helpful and can keep us and our children from abusing something that is so ubiquitous. Before you read those, however, consider how Facebook may actually be a constructive tool in the Kingdom of God, one that can benefit you, your Church and community:

First, Facebook offers invaluable information about loved ones. A couple of days ago as I was leaving the office I scanned briefly through the updates and discovered that the son of a dear friend was about to enter into surgery. She asked for prayer. As I drove home I petitioned to our gracious God on behalf of this little child. Without Facebook I don’t think I would have known about this surgery in time. I could multiply these experiences. Facebook has brought closeness with not only loved ones, but dear friends and their families.

Second, Facebook has provided me tremendous counseling opportunities. I already have a distinct call as a pastor to counsel my flock, but if someone outside my community desires 5-10 minutes of my time seeking wisdom on a personal issue I have the luxury to offer it through this tool. We are all called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I have done both regularly because of Facebook.

Third, Facebook offers exposure to new ideas. This may not seem appealing, but I have always believed that Christians need to frequently visit C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe. They need to be exposed to ideas that confront their theological paradigms. Of course, sometimes these FB discussions can lead to unfortunate and uncharitable debates that consume a lot of our time, but again I want to redeem Facebook (see Mohler’s list for safeguarding).

Fourth, FB provides a venue to encourage others with words of comfort (see #1). Many have been encouraged by biblical passages and quotes that speak directly to a unique circumstance in their lives. At the same time, the same venue can provide a proper rebuke to our unpleasant and ungodly attitudes. There are pastors and godly parishioners whose FB status I read daily for comfort and rebuke.

Fifth, FB can be a source of intellectual stimulation. I can’t tell you how many books I have purchased or downloaded on Kindle (another useful tool for the kingdom) due to the sample quotes posted on FB. For those with a book budget this can be a temptation, but again I am in the redeeming business.

Finally, FB is inevitable. “Hey, everybody’s doing it!” Seriously, everybody! Is this a good reason to do it? In this case I believe it is! Many Churches, Ministries, Charitable Organizations, Event Planners, all have their own FB page. Of course, you don’t have to be on top of everything, just be a lurker! But at least have a FB presence. FB serves a multitude of purposes, and can in fact facilitate communication, fellowship, and much more.

Facebook has been a tremendous tool for good. And as tool, it fulfills Dr. Mohler’s requirements, since it is morally impactful and technologically useful. So go ahead, start an account and join us!