by Tad Lindley
It used to irritate me when I traveled to memorable places and I would see people looking at some great sight in Hawaii or a beautiful sunset somewhere through their video camera. They would literally be looking into the camera instead of absorbing the beauty of God’s creation with their naked eye. Now times have changed. I happened to go to the Grand Canyon this past year and now I noticed that people aren’t even facing the sunrise or the sunset anymore. In fact they have their back turned to the beauty of the earth behind them and instead are looking at their cellular telephone way out on a selfie stick.
Super star on your own phone
Not too long ago, you had to either be extremely famous or extremely rich to have your life documented in photographs. The time has now come when anybody with a Facebook and a smartphone can be a superstar not just in their own mind, but on their own Snapchat account. As a people we have become so self-obsessed that we all know people whose Facebook timeline is nothing more than a series of pictures of themselves pursing their lips and trying to look like a music idol. It would appear that we may indeed be arriving in the end time.
Perilous times will come
The Bible warns us, But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves… (II Timothy 3:1-2 NIV) We have come into that time when many are going through life stuck in full blown selfie mode. They are unable to consider those around them; the main focus is upon themselves.
John the Baptist’s remedy for selfie mode
Even the most holy among us are not immune from getting stuck in selfie mode. This is why John the Baptist famously said in John 3:30, He must increase, but I must decrease. In other words John was telling the world, “I’ve got to turn this camera around and get the focus off of me, and onto God.”
Selfie mode is deadly
Remember when God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. They were a very short time in the desert and were supposed to go directly into the promised land of Israel. They sent 12 spies ahead of them into the promised land. Two spies, Caleb and Joshua, urged the people to take the land. They were focused on the bigness of God and the power of his promise. The other 10 spies, however, were stuck in selfie mode. And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:32-33 NKJV)
They were so stuck in selfie mode that they completely failed to realize that their God is way bigger than whatever giants this world could throw at them. The result of their focus on themselves is that they died without ever making it into the land of Israel. And the people of Israel were forced to spend 40 more years in the desert before entering the land of Promise.
A wise king focused on the right thing
King Jehoshaphat of Israel who lived 100s of years later had his camera focused on the right thing. When his nation was about to come under attack and face certain loss, he feared and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. (II Chronicles 20:3) He could have stared into his selfie mode and thought about how weak his army was and how could God do this to him. Instead, he immediately turned his focus onto God. In fact he told his whole nation to get out of selfie mode and seek God.
A backwards battle plan
When they focused on God, they heard from God. The upshot of the matter is that they went into battle with the choir out in front. And they weren’t hiding M-16s under their robes either. They were out in front of the soldiers singing praises to God. Their focus was on the greatness of God, not on themselves. Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. (II Chronicles 20:22 NKJV) Without a single scratch on a Jewish soldier the enemy was destroyed. That is the power of getting the focus off of us and onto Him!
What about us?
Imagine if we could get out of selfie mode? Instead of thinking about how big our bills, our headaches, our challenges, and our disappointments are, what if we thought about how big our God is? What if we focused on the fact that the earth is his and the fulness thereof? (Psalm 24:1) What if instead of looking at our image and the impossibilities that we face, we turned the camera around and put it on Jesus and began to meditate on how with him all things are possible? If you’re stuck in selfie mode, now is the time to break loose of it and to begin looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12:2)
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.