There is a global phenomenon that began in 2014. You may have heard of it. It involves people taking digital self-portraits and posting them on social media. In fact, they even coined an official term for it: Selfies.
Believe it or not there was once a time when people used cameras to take pictures of other people, not just themselves! Now the social conversation is saturated with look-at-me duck-faces and bathroom mirror bikini shots. We shouldn’t be surprised though; the cultural phenomenon known as “Selfies” are really just symptomatic of our cultural self-obsession.
We live in a world that’s all about “me.” We are told to “take care of #1”, to focus on your own life and not to worry about other people’s problems. We are self-serving and feel entitled to fairness. Others only matter if they benefit us in some way and if they don’t then they have no value. Our world tells us it’s most important to make sure we are happy.
This way of thinking boils down to one word: Selfishness. But God tells us to do the opposite.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3
Putting others above ourselves is not a natural human reaction. We are born selfish. We want food when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired (a fluffy pillow would also be nice) and a blanket when we are cold.
We are all selfish to some extent because we all sin. Sin is ultimately selfishness – putting what you want above what God wants. The opposite of sin is selflessness, the word that I believe best describes Jesus.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus put others above Himself. He could have selfishly stayed in heaven or left earth when things got rough, but He loved us too much for that. He demonstrated the ultimate act of humility. He endured the rejection, pain and death not for Himself, but for us.
The act of snapping a picture of yourself isn’t bad itself. I will post the occasional selfie myself (almost all with my husband). I’ll admit, it’s sometimes fun to “share an experience” with others.
To me, the problem with selfies is the cultural obsession of “look at me”. Our life shouldn’t be focused on us, it should be focused on others.
Take care of #1. But don’t be #1.