I have been privileged to work with young adults for the past 6 years. It’s been a joy walking the path with young believers and non-believers at this watershed moment in their lives. As teens leave home and move to a university campus much about life and identity shifts or is unsettled. Increasingly, we live in a world that calls for us to redefine ourselves according to our circumstances and surroundings. The “selfie” age is upon us.
The Selfie Age
For those who do not know what the selfie age is, here is an explanation. We live in an era of history where I matter most. It’s all about me, the individual centre. All roads lead to me, the imperious “I”. I see everything and everyone from my perspective. If I think about God, I think of Him in relation to me.
We live in an era where I matter most. I see everything and everyone from my perspective. If I think about God, I think of Him in relation to me.
The Pursuit of Meaning
But let us reason together. This scrambling pursuit for meaning and value shouldn’t end with us. Surely it is hopeless to find it in broken vessels? As Jeremiah 2:13 says, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” We know how important water is for sustaining life. But the Old Testament prophet tells us that, in rebellion, we forsake and abandon God, the fountain of living water. More than that, we don’t stop there. We go further, putting our hope and trust in things of this world, created things instead of Him, our Creator.
Cisterns that leak are of no use. We all surely agree, right? If I am to be honest, it does feel good temporarily to trust in other things. But the nature of worldly pleasures is that they leave us disappointed, disenchanted and ultimately devoid of real or lasting meaning. That is why I am convinced that if I am going to find genuine Christian joy, it must be in something outside of me, someone greater, purer, firmer and bigger.
When I first encountered social media, especially the trendier platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, I noticed that every time I posted a photo, selfie or status, I was most concerned about who liked it and how many likes it got. Whether my post portrayed me as an ambassador of Christ or not became unimportant. In that moment, it was all about me: how people view me and what they would think of me. Ironically, I even posted Bible verses with the desire that I, not God, would be appreciated, perhaps even worshiped. It’s incredibly easy to be inward looking in this selfie age. For that is what the world is calling us to do: love ourselves.
Ironically, I even posted Bible verses with the desire that I, not God, would be appreciated, perhaps even worshiped.
Making Everything About Me
Another example that is worth analysing is the gender-based violence scourge that is constantly rearing its savage head like a vicious snake in our societies and countries. This violence against women has, and should, continue to cause us grief and loud lament. But we also need wisdom because the temptation is only ever to look within and cry “victim!” Thinking it’s all against us as women, and about us. Even as Christian women, we quickly forget that GBV, like all other sin, is a rejection of God and his rule first and foremost.
When we choose to be objective rather than subjective, which is the harder of the two, we realise that we have a greater role to play as Christ’s ambassadors. Therefore, the urgency to call people to a King, rather than to ourselves, is more genuine and hastened.
God-forgetting self-sovereignty is dangerous to you and destructive to your heart. It will cause you to use things in a way that they were not intended to be used.
Me-ism and the Selfie
Paul Tripp put it well in his book Sex and Money, “Practical, everyday ‘me-ism’, where the world is reduced to the small confines of your comfort, your pleasure, your control, your happiness, and your ease never works. It doesn’t work because it runs cross-grain against the way you and the world you live in were designed to operate. You see, its simply not about you. And when you make it about you, nothing good results. God-forgetting self-sovereignty is dangerous to you and destructive to your heart. It will cause you to use things in a way that they were not intended to be used. Because of this, ‘me-ism’ never results in long term peace, rest, satisfaction and joy.”
How do I Get Over Myself?
So you may ask me how you can get over yourself and do the right thing? Well, my friend, we need to first and forever look to the cross. In Christ we find such a solace that we are fully known and deeply loved by Him. The more you look to Christ and his finished work for wretched sinners like me and you, the more we will find fulfilment in Him. Knowing that now there is no condemnation for those who have put their faith in Him. Even you don’t have to condemn yourself anymore, or try to appease your peers.
It’s a big pitfall to be so immersed in our self-image and personal circumstances that when we meet with our friends we almost by default want to talk about how much we are hurt and disappointed or even how happy with ourselves in that particular moment. But when we begin to look at how good God is and how big He is, through his word and the testimony of God by other believers, the whole game plan changes. For you are saying everything within feels hopeless but there is someone that brings hope. Hope is found in Jesus our saviour and king – even in our selfie age.
My longing and thirst can only be satisfied by the one who made me that way.
Christ Quenches our Thirst
This aridity to try to satisfy and fill up a gap in my self is a sounding gong that anything I have tried to fill this void with, especially by focusing on my self as is so prevalent today, will leave me even more hopeless than before. My longing and thirst can only be satisfied by the one who made me that way. He knew me before the foundations of the earth and He wants to quench that thirst with himself. Only in Him is spiritual thirst satisfied and the arid wilderness of sin and death replaced by eternal life with God.
When Christ came he announced that he himself is the one who gives the living water that God repeatedly provided and promised for his people in the Old Testament. When we start with God’s glory instead of ours, the reference point becomes Him, the giver of life. Not me and my selfie. That makes all the difference. I no longer occupy the defining place in the greater scheme of things. There is abounding freedom in that.