Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Selfie

photoI have been a fan of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for many years. I love the art of language and the skill it takes to document the ever changing and living tongue of the anglophonic people.

This week all nerdly eyes were on Oxford as they announced the word of the year. This is an annual event at which a new and influential word is chosen based on how it has come into the language. Sure, it’s not the Superbowl, but some of us get pretty excited about these things.

Did you hear what this year’s word is? Selfie.

Yep. Selfie.

What is a selfie you might ask? The OED defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Why is this so interesting? The selfie is not just a way of putting yourself out there for the tweeters of the world to see. The selfie is a reflection of the corporate fallen heart of mankind.

Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Notice Jesus’s presupposition? You love yourself. Isn’t the selfie merely a symptom of the problem that Jesus here illustrates? Man loves himself. Woman loves herself. This is foundational. As fallen beings, our focus of love is not first and foremost towards God. It is not towards neighbor secondly, where both Leviticus 19:18 and Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:39) tell us love is to be directed.

Instead we love ourselves. Self-love is a symptom of man’s fallen heart. The selfie illustrates our need for the gospel. We do not know ourselves as we ought. We do not see a fallen heart and guilt before God. We see our selfie as wonderful and exceptional. The philosopher and poet, Shel Silverstein, wrote:

 If my face could only twist,
Then I could give my cheek a kiss
And whisper in my lovely ear,
“You’re so beautiful, my dear.”
And look into my eyes and see
Just how much I’m in love with me.

Personally, I am glad that selfie is the word of the year. It allows us to talk about human nature due to Adam’s rebellion so long ago. William Perkins, the father of Puritanism, said, “For you will never be filled with the good things of God till you are emptied of self-love and self-liking. For this cause let us purge and empty ourselves of all our own righteousness that God may fill our hearts with his grace.” (Exposition of the Apostle’s Creed)

Selfie is an ugly word for sure. The word is symptomatic of our ugly fallen hearts which are in need of the grace offered by the one who emptied himselfie to the point of death, even death on a cross.

So let’s be honest- we are selfish selfies. May we find grace to deny ourselfies as we cling to Christ that he might cure our selfish fallen hearts.

8 Comments

  1. JD Blom November 21, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    Reblogged this on A DEVOTED LIFE.

  2. cupitonians November 21, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    This is HILARIOUS! LOVE IT!

  3. pj54 November 21, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    This was an excellent post. Why is it that people always take things “out of context” to fit their own ideas? When Jesus was talking about loving ourselves, I don’t believe He intended for us to be “self-righteous, conceited or put ourselves first. Which is exactly what we do. We need to keep in mind that we can do nothing or be nothing without God. We can’t even take our next breath. What gives us the right to become “a lover of ourselves” and put God on the back burner? Unfortunately, that is what many of us do. We start loving the “creation” more than the creator.

    God Bless,
    PJ

  4. kristy mapp November 21, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Absolutely love this.. I have been pondering my inner selfie a lot lately.. and it bothers me to see so many selfies out there. (Yes, my plank is large.) Thanks for this!!

  5. NotTheFakePTP November 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Self-love that is overblown becomes self-centerdness. But if self-love is only “self-care” then that is not sin… The Bible clearly tells us to “Guard Our Heart above all else” and “To Love others as we Love ourselves”.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, the “Selfie” is going to open up a lot of conversations that hopefully will get redirected back to Christ.

  6. gapark November 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others. Then you will come to love yourself and those you serve.

  7. darylgstewart November 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Well done. I could not have done any better, my selfie!

  8. verawrites November 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Makes me think of when we were kids and someone would ask: Who do you love? And we’d answer: Me, myself and I. There is a fine line between self-love and self-loathing, and many struggle along it – like celebrities with addictions, broken relationships, etc. Only in Christ can any of us be whole. Thanks JD.

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