What does the rise of selfies say about our constant need for affirmation? How are you ever going to feel beautiful enough or successful enough?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Let me show you something ridiculous.
(Twinkind Photo 1)
There’s a new website out, Twinkind, where they take your picture, in a booth, and through 3D printing, they can create a tiny, detailed, carefully painted figurine...of…YOU!
(Twinkind Photo 2)
We look at this…and we think…wow…that’s ridiculous. What Narcissism!
(Twinkind Photo 3)
And yet, let’s back up and step out of the culture.
Let’s say I can travel through time and talk to my cool grandpa in 1940.
And I tell him that in 2015 not only can we talk on MOBILE phones and video chat with someone in China, but we take pictures of OURSELVES…and we take a lot of them…and we call them: SELFIES.
He would say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
And yet, that’s where we are.
Here at Renovation, we are in the third week of a series called the Gilded Age…named after a time period in America (1870-1900) where everything appeared much more golden than it really was.
Gilding is where you apply a thin gold layer over a solid substance like wood.
We’re in our third week of examining this topic through a social media lens, and if you’re part of the small minority not a part of any social media platform, no need to fear, starting next time, we’re going to come at this series from a non-social media angle
RISE OF THE SELFIE
So how did we get here?
How in WORLD did the “selfie” of all things, get popular?
For most of the 20th century, it took a LONG time to even get a photograph developed.
And then…polaroid cameras came along
And even better yet…digital cameras.
And a few “early adopters” tried to take selfies with digital cameras. J
The problem was, you couldn’t see what you were aiming at…BUT…for the first time, you could just delete it if it didn’t look good!
Then… early social media platforms like MySpace required “Profile Pictures,” so insecure teenagers started snapping what would be the predecessor to the selfie…what used to be affectionately called “The MySpace Pic”
It was a photo…of a teen…making a pose…standing in front of the mirror.
Because again, you couldn’t see what it looked like!
And around the same time, cell phones started coming with cameras.
And while you could theoretically whip it out and take a picture of yourself with your Motorola RAZR, you’d be lucky to be able to decipher it was actually you in the picture.
And then, in 2010, Steve Jobs changed everything…again…when he gave us the iPhone4…which was the first phone that (not only a good camera), but a FRONT-FACING camera.
And the selfie has never looked back J
No pun intended J
And in a lot of ways, this has all gotten out of control right?
For one…selfies are dangerous.
Let me show you the most important info graph you’ll see this year
(Show Sharks Vs. Selfies Photo)
As you can see, more people have died in 2015 from taking selfies than from shark attacks J
Many of these have been from selfie sticks…the stick that you hold out to get a lot of people in the shot…or you use so you can take a better picture of yourself when you don’t have any friends.
People, this is why we have House Groups…we need community J
They start this week…sign up…they could literally save your life J
In fact, Disney just recently banned the selfie stick at their parks because people were holding out selfie sticks on twisting and winding rollercoasters.
The human race ladies and gentlemen J
It’s like…we’re so obsessed with this, there is no such thing as selfie etiquette.
There are maybe a few acceptable places to take a selfie.
The following are not those places:
While running with the bulls:
While getting pulled over:
Or at a Fire
(START TITLE SLIDE HERE)
And even if you’re not stupid enough to take a selfie with a fire…we can’t stop taking them.
The selfie isn’t just a thing for teenagers anymore.
The pope has taken selfies, the President, World Leaders, CEO’s, you name it.
Five years ago, we shared somewhere close to 50 million photos daily.
Today…just 5 years later…it’s 1.8 billion
To put that into context, more photos are taken in about 5 minutes than the entire 19th century combined.
And an enormous amount of those photos are…selfies.
In fact, some studies say that 40% of people 16-24 take one selfie a week.
The article where I read that stat, finished with this line, “Kind of makes you think that the world was a little less narcissistic when we had to pay for film.”
But wait! Hold up. Was it?
I’m not sure.
We’ve always been rather narcissistic.
We just now have a vehicle that’s lets us show it off and lets it run wild.
Think about this: The selfie was prominent centuries ago.
Do you remember middle school art class?
Remember the self-portrait>
Vincent Van Gogh painted 38…THIRTY-EIGHT…portraits of himself.
This isn’t a new thing,
WHAT THEY REVEAL TO US
It’s not a new thing…AND…they’re not all bad.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water and oversimplify things.
Instead, let’s ask the right questions: Like “Why is the ‘selfie’ SO popular?
Anytime you have SUCH a popular trend, we need to ask deeper questions.
And find answers that go deeper than… “It’s because we have a front facing camera now”
What need is this hitting for us that has made it so popular?
At first, this may sound similar to what we discussed two weeks ago in our Instagram message about putting a beautiful filter over the reality of our lives.
But I want to hit this not from the angle of, “I need to show you how amazing my life is, but I need to show you that I’m beautiful.”
Or, I need to show you, that I’m worth something.
It’s about worth. Affirmation. Love.
For a lot of women, it’s affirmation through beauty.
For a lot of men, it’s affirmation through success.
Times are changing, and sometimes it seems there are just as many men on Facebook or Instagram, displaying their bulging abs, looking for the same sort of approval in attraction that many women are seeking.
And similar with women and success as well.
And don’t write this topic off too quickly.
It’s too easy to say, “Yeah, selfies are ridiculous. Who does that?”
And yet, there might be more of you on your phone than you think J
iOs9 will tell you how many selfies you have.
And even if there’s not, most of us still struggle with this topic whether we take pictures of ourselves or not.
For a lot of people, it’s in the affirmation they seek through their clothing…or even their shoes.
If your spouse is w/ you right now, and they own more than 3 pairs of shoes, tell them they’ve got to start asking themselves some tough questions J
It’s in our clothes we buy…it’s in the fact that so many people are spending upwards of 90 minutes every morning getting ready…
To have the right clothes, the right hair, the right makeup.
And for what??
Beyond the fact that you don’t want to smell and it’s helpful to wear clothes in society.
At the end of the day…isn’t a lot of it just another gilded layer?
A layer covering up what our faces really look like…who we really are?
We figure if we can work hard at what we look like…lose some of that beer belly, get bigger biceps, fix your acne, lose some baby fat…THEN…
I’m not saying “don’t get healthy,” but I want you to start asking yourself…where is it that I’m looking for affirmation through what I look like? Through what I’ve done?
Where am I looking for self worth?
Maybe you can see it in your selfies…or maybe it’s something else.
When we hear the word selfie, “We often think just of an insecure person with a close-up of their face…and you say, ‘That’s not me!’”
But let me give you some real concrete examples from my own life.
The difference between pictures that are totally normal and pictures that reveal our desire for affirmation is actually quite subtle.
For instance…here’s a normal picture.
I was at the park with my kids last Saturday, and there happened to be an event there with Mini Donuts (strangely enough the same guy we had here)
So I took a picture, and sent it to my wife…as a way to just update her about what I we were doing.
I wasn’t thinking, “Gosh, I hope she affirms me as a great dad”
I was maybe more thinking, “I hope she’s not mad I got them mini donuts 30 minutes before lunch”
But let me be vulnerable with you and show you what I think is a selfie of mine where I’m maybe looking for something more.
I took this last October, when I ran my first half marathon.
Which is a good thing.
It’s good to be healthy.
I love running, and it’s good for me.
However, if I’m totally honest with you, which I try to be, I can remember…multiple times even…thinking…planning while I was training…I’ll take that picture on race day…and then people can see that I ran 13 miles, and that …I…AM….AWESOME!
But I can’t find my worth in that.
And one of the reasons why is that it’s not guaranteed.
A few days from now, I was supposed to run Twin cities marathon…my very first.
I trained HARD…all summer for it, but 3 weeks ago, I got injured on my 18 mile training run.
And as of this week, I can’t make it around the block.
So…it’s not going to happen.
It’s not going to satisfy my thirst for affirmation.
No selfie will be taken at the finish line.
And even if I was there and took one…would it be enough?
THE WRONG WELL
And God has told us in his Book, the Bible, that we aren’t going to find true affirmation in our beauty, in the words of other people, in our successes.
On one of his journeys, Jesus meets a woman at a well, and they strike up a conversation.
If you want to see his response, or read the passages with us this morning, there’s a Bible under every chair
While they’re conversing about the well and drinking, Jesus says this:
(John 4:10-14) – NIV
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus makes the incredibly bold claim…that if you find your LIFE in Him…you won’t be thirsty anymore.
Did you hear that?
Do you believe that?
If you find your life/affirmation in Him…you won’t be thirsty anymore.
All of the longings you have to just be told that you are beautiful
All of the longings you have to just be “good enough” for your parents…
You won’t be thirsty…if you’re finding your worth…your affirmation…in God.
And we need it…we NEED this.
As I’ve said many times in this series, Social Media didn’t invent these problems, but they sure have highlighted them.
And maybe this is one case where they’ve even accelerated it.
Do you remember the first time you heard your own voice on a video?
If you’re a teenager, you’re thinking, “Yeah, when I was 2”
For me, and I’m 33, it was in 4th grade.
And I remember thinking, “Um, why did no one ever tell me that I sound like that?!”
For many of us it was a horrifying experience.
My wife and I have a regular house group, but whenever I visit other ones, people always ask me, “What’s it like to hear yourself on DVD?”
Is that why you sit in the back?
I say, “No, I just sit in the back so people don’t see me laughing at my own jokes”
But see, in a generation where we take pictures of ourselves, we’re harder on ourselves than we’ve ever been before.
“Look how big my nose is? Do I really look like that?”
And what’s happening is…it’s forcing us to work harder than ever before to get affirmation about what we look like…and what we’ve done.
And if we’re convinced we’re not beautiful and worthwhile anymore, then we’ll just show the world pictures of our kids…because surely they are!
And we can find affirmation in that!
But it’s not enough. It’ll never be enough. It’ll never satisfy. You’ll always be thirsty for more.
You’ll get laid off at work…and the thing that was temporarily satisfying your thirst will be gone.
If you’re beautiful now…you’ll be beautiful in a different way J
If you have power now…people admire you now…someday they’ll forget your name.
If this all satisfied our thirst, people wouldn’t keep taking selfies once a week
Jesus says… “Come to me…all who are weary and burdened…and you’ll find rest.
“Come to me, and I’ll quench your thirst.
SEEING THE MASTERPIECE
This is hard.
Even for the seasoned Christian believer…this is hard.
If I’m honest with you, I’m struggling with this right now.
I’ve been pretty bent up that I can’t run this race that I’ve been dreaming about for so long.
I know I shouldn’t be, but I am.
And I’m sure part of it is because…some of my identify is in it.
I thought, “I could be a marathon runner.”
Maybe I could put one of those dorky 26.2 marathon car stickers next to my Renovation Sticker of course J
And so lately, I’ve been putting a lot of effort into mentally reminding myself of what I’m living for…where my worth is.
Life is good.
I’ve got a roof. Food. (that’s more than a lot can say)
I’ve got a wife who still likes me
I’ve got two great kids…one on the way…with a healthy pregnancy so far
I’ve got a great church…full of people I love
We’re making a difference…changing the world for Jesus
And it’s deeper than that even.
Jesus loves me.
He loves me
I did some bad stuff.
I’m a mess sometimes.
I get sidetracked chasing idols and my own self worth sometimes.
He loves me.
I’m forgiven in Him.
I’m not condemned in my sin anymore.
He loves me so much that he actually came to earth to die in MY place.
As a believer, I’m going to spend eternity…that’s FOREVER by the way…with him…in Paradise…in heaven!
Heaven’s going to be like the greatest vacation you could dream of…and it never ends!
And better yet, The God I love…and the God that loves ME…is going to be right there with me!
Why am I looking for affirmation from anything or anyone else?
I’m already loved and accepted by most important person.
I want to speak some truth to you this morning, and I want to speak it to your heart…not just your mind.
I want to read to you …some words from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the Bible.
And for some of you that actually grew up in church hearing this passage, I’m going to read it in a different translation (the New Living Translation)
That way you can hear it like you’re hearing it for the first time.
And I want you to do something different as I read these 7 verses
I want you to just close your eyes as I read this.
And I want you to hear God speaking to your HEART regarding What He thinks of you and what your worth is in Him.
(Ephesians 2:4-10) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!!
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
You’re God’s masterpiece.
Despite all of our selfies…all of our insecure questions of “Am I beautiful? Am I a good enough? Am I good parent? Am I actually good at anything? Am I…? Am I…”
He looks at you…and says, “My MASTERPIECE”
It’s not: “That pictures all wrong…or I look so fat…or if I only did something significant…”
You’re his Masterpiece…and if you’re a believer in Jesus, He’s going to delight in you…as you delight in Him…for a DELIGHTFUL eternity.
And so don’t chase affirmation anywhere else.
You’ll just always be thirsty.
Drink from His eternal spring of water that never runs dry.
Many people who have been Christians for a while “know this,” but I find they don’t really know this at all.
What Jesus thinks of them…and how worthy they are in Him…is something that hasn’t moved from their minds to their hearts yet.
Read these verses over again this week. Let it sink in.
The always brilliant Timothy Keller describes it this way in his new book, The Two Advocates
He says, “Imagine you're a billionaire, and you have 3 ten-dollar bills in your wallet.
You get out of a cab, and you hand the driver one of the bills for an eight-dollar fare. Later in the day you look in and find out there's only one ten-dollar bill there, and you say, "Either I dropped a ten-dollar bill somewhere, or I gave the taxi driver two bills."
What are you going to do? Are you going to get all upset? Are you going to the police and demand they search the city for the cabdriver?
No, you are going to shrug. You're a billionaire!
You lost ten dollars. So what?
You are too rich to be concerned about that kind of loss.
As a Christian, you’re a spiritual billionaire…because God is your father.
You’re too rich to be concerning yourself with finding affirmation anywhere else
You’ve struck it absolutely rich in:
What God thinks of you…
What He’s saved you from…
And what He has promised you for the future.
That Ephesians passage we read said that we are beneficiaries of the “incredible WEALTH of his grace”
WE are RICH in Christ.
Let go of trying to find affirmation from this world.
It’s pocket change.
Sure, you’re going to get $10 here and $20 there in “affirmations and successes” in this world.
And at times, lose $10 here and $20 there.
But never forget…in Christ…you’re already a billionaire.
Find your worth in Him.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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