Would Jesus Selfie? The Problem with Natural You

I love the picture with this posting. There’s just something about the Son of God (or a portrayal of him) doing a selfie that just screams “Jesus wouldn’t do this!”

But it is still hilarious. And I could see Jesus doing this today just to bring joy to our hearts–but no, he wouldn’t be posting selfies…

What is my biblical basis for this? Imma be ‘splainin it to ya:

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” That’s found in 1 Corinthians 2:14, some wisdom from God through the Apostle Paul.

So what does that have to do with Jesus selfies?

One needs to understand what that word natural in that passage means. It is translated from the Greek work psychikos and carries the idea of those sensual features that are characterized by desires or appetite. Sensuality has to do with those things that appeal to our senses, and thus what we would know as relating to our brain’s reward system of various chemicals.

In this day of selfies on social media this phenomenon of selfies, likes, and the brain chemical dopamine (and some other pleasure/reward type substances) has been greatly studied.

In fact, your tablets and devices (and the software residing on them) are designed with the manipulation of your natural senses and reward systems in mind. If you haven’t realized it, the companies providing these devices and programs are hacking you for their benefit.

It is fascinating how open the tech company leaders are about their withholding these devices from their children, that is, the smartphones, tablets, game devices, and resident programs that their companies market to your children.

When an interviewer asked Steve Jobs how his kids used the iPad (back when it was new) he just flatly let it be known that that device was not allowed in his house.

A police officer friend heard that quote and laughed. He said the word among drug dealers that he dealt with was “Never get high on your own supply.” The successful dealer know that what they sell will destroy their families—so the “good” ones do not even sell drugs from their house. They often have a separate place (an apartment or home) where they do their dealings.

What’s Behind the Selfie Anyway

There has been a ton of research on this—you can search it yourself. Just look up “Why do people post selfies, scholarly” and you will find several months worth of worthy research reading.

To cut to the chase, the primary motives for selfie posting are attention seeking, communication, archiving, and entertainment.

More significant, though, is the the frequency of posting selfies is related almost entirely to narcissism.

If you have a high sense of being important, if you lack empathy for others (which, only others may recognize that lack), if you have a high need for admiration and recognition, and you believe yourself to be completely deserving of special treatment—you are probably highly narcisistic.

A simpler way to determine whether or not you are high on the narcissism scale (it is considered to be a spectrum type of issue) is to look back on your photos in your phone and on your social media. Do you have a lot of selfies?

Do distinguish these from groupies, where your desire was to have a photograph with people you love—that is apparently healthier!

But if most of your postings and photographs are just you—you have a problem.

You need the admiration, approval, and recognition of exactly how precious you know you are so much that you get it by showing yourself—this is how you confirm your worth.

Would Jesus Selfie?


Scripturally, have a look:

“Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (Jn. 2:23-25)

This is deep stuff. Jesus on numerous occasion because of the signs he was accomplishing could have much more rapidly built a following who absolutely adored him.

Unfortunately, the Messiah was a public relations disaster. He wasn’t trying to be liked or to build a following based upon what people wanted.

He was on mission.

Want an example?

Here’s one, a short-man named Zaccheus.

A crowd was following Jesus as he entered Jericho. This was good, if you are trying to build your reputation, following, and self-esteem.

As they walked through the streets, they were crowded with people who wanted to see the miracle worker-rabbi. What an opportunity to impress people with your popular spirituality and power. Were the Apostles thrilled that their rabbi was finally getting some traction, that they could begin to build the army of people they would need to seized power and defeat the Roman occupiers? This was going to be good!

Then Jesus stopped, and looked up in a tree.

Yep, a sycamore tree, just like in the VBS song.

There was a Jewish man who worked for the Romans as a tax collector, and he was very good at what he did.

Tax collectors who were Jews were generally considered traitors by their fellow Jews. Zaccheus was someone Jesus needed to avoid if he was going to continue to demonstrate what a great and loveable popular figure he was. This moment, when he saw the little tax collector was a good moment perhaps to speak a strong word of rebuke to this selfish little man. Or perhaps better, just shake his head in disapproval—and walk on.

I really think that was what Zaccheus was expecting—he would not have been surprised to be rejected. In fact, the text will indicate shortly just how much the residents of Jericho disliked this guy.

Wouldn’t you know it, Jesus looks up at Zaccheus, and speaks: “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

I strongly suspect there was a sudden lack of oxygen on that street at that moment—everyone sucked all the air out of the local area.

Not only did Jesus not give this horrible man the condemnation he deserved, or at the least just not give him the time of day, Jesus imposes himself on Zacceheus! I must stay at your house today!

What a disaster. How many Jewish people who had been hesitant to accept this rabbi as being the Messiah, following him around and seeing what he was doing and hearing his teachings—were beginning to admit that this could be the promised Savior?

And then he tells a despicable traitor to “hurry and come down” because “imma goin’ to yo crib!”
(Okay, I paraphrased some of that).

All of this is a way of saying—Jesus had no need of the approval of man in order to know his value—that is, his ultimate value. That is the only value that matters. He was God, the Son of the Father, and that was enough?

That is how the Father in heaven regarded him.

So no, Jesus would not be doing selfies had he preempted Apple and others and created a smartphone out of thin air.

 If I’m a Selfie Taker, What Should I Do?

First off, just realize that the answer is found in the same story about Zaccheus.

Zaccheus was messed up spiritually. Jesus, I contend, knew and sought out Zaccheus because he knew his heart was ready to change. There is something to the fact that this hated tax collector actually cared enough to see Jesus to run and climb a tree that indicates a spiritually soft heart.

Zaccheus was successful, but I perceive, utterly empty. He could have been out shaking his fellow Jews down for more money or enjoying the riches he already had.

But instead, he, like many, had heard of the rabbi. There was something in the story of him that made him wonder—is he the salvation of Israel? Is he the success that I need? Will he provide the cure to my emptiness, loneliness, and rejection?

So instead of seeking more Zaccheus-glorification, he sought salvation. He was unconcerned with the loss of dignity he would experience by climbing up a tree amongst those who knew and hated him. They could absolutely wear him out for being too short so that he had to climb a tree, and make fun of him since he probably would have been exposing his undergarments as he climbed.

Zaccheus, I tearfully perceive, was nearing the end of himself. He had been successful in promoting himself and becoming well known, wealthy, and powerful.

All his efforts had given him was pain and an empty soul.

So he sought a small possibility—just to see this miracle worker, could he be what Zaccheus needed?

Yes…and Zaccheus repented, “Behold, Lord ,the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it foretold.” (Lk. 19:8)

You see, the tax man not only called Jesus his Lord, he renounced his other lords—his money and his big-ole-self. He was now sharing his cash and himself readily with others and restoring anything he had withheld from others.

Neither his money nor his need to glorify himself was Lord.

He had only one Lord now, and that was enough. As Jesus put it, “Today, salvation has come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham.” (Lk. 19:9)

Any of us can give up what we have erected as an idol to our value—if you have a need to be praised, treated special, to get lots of likes and to continually be recognized, you are worshipping yourself. You may be a member of a church family, you may go on mission trips (and posing selfies of yourself so everyone knows and praises you), and you may be engaged in some very sweet and loving forms of ministry.

But here is the challenge. Would you do your “ministry” if no one recognized you for it? Would you be angry if your picture wasn’t included and your name omitted from the church website posting about an event you participated in? Are you really desirous of doing God’s will or is the point of your “service” to make you feel better and let everyone else know how wonderful you are?

Would you take a mission trip and not post pictures of yourself and tell the story of how hard and wonderful it was? Are you really doing missions for the glory of God—or to build your reputation and worth?

Here’s the key issue—when you sit at the foot of the cross and see Jesus writhing in pain, and then in your imagination walk over to the tomb a few days later, and see the head cloth folded neatly in the empty space there—is that, the indication of the Savior’s love for you, enough?

If not…you are in a bad place. Your heart is hard. Seek help, pray hard.

Otherwise, let your life glorify God and encourage others. Deflect praise from yourself and recognize those who work alongside you, especially the Holy Spirit. Make much of God and others—allow the Lord who saved you to be your glory.

Let the Savior on the cross who indwells you be enough–and stop turning the camera on yourself.

For God’s sake, stop with the filters!

It is a place of glorious freedom, I promise.

(Image by Ollyy/Shutterstock)

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