It’s a Selfie World

shutterstock_199956071It’s a selfie world. Sigh.

This fact was recently highlighted on a popular television show. The producers staged strange events in the middle of a busy pedestrian destination.

The purpose: to see if anyone would notice. And guess what? No one noticed! The people were all too engrossed in their own selfie shots appreciate the irony.

The situation was hilarious…and all too common.

So are selfie shots the problem or just the latest outlet for an age-old issue?

If one thing is true, human nature does not change. And humans have always been inherently distracted by self-interest.

Two thousand years ago, the Apostle James taught, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14, emphasis added).

Nearly three thousand years ago, King Solomon lamented, “Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

It’s true, selfies and selfie sticks are a recent phenomenon, but they are not the enemy.

The enemy: every human heart throughout time beats with the venom of selfish vanity.

So what does self-interest distract us from? What do we have to lose? Just a good laugh? Or something more?

First, selfish vanity keeps us from God’s good and perfect gifts.

Scripture says “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).

“Good and perfect gifts” include divine protection, miraculous healing, anointing, peace, joy, love, comfort, provision, to name a few.

The Disciple Peter ran into this issue. He was in the midst of experiencing a radical miracle when he took His eyes off Jesus and lost it. Jesus allowed Peter to walk on water even though Peter was living in the same natural world and in the same mortal body that we live in today.

But when Peter became distracted by the howling wind, the roaring water, and his mortal limitations, he began to sink.

We too risk sinking in the midst of our radical miracle if we become too engrossed in our “seflies.”

Second, staying focused on Jesus enables us to bear and produce fruit for the kingdom of God.

“Whoever abides in me and I in them, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Abiding in Christ requires continual, habitual investment in a personal relationship with Jesus. It’s not a once and you’re done kind of thing.

We do this by constantly reading the Word of God, fervently praying, and honestly reflecting on our sinfulness. It also requires us to intentionally plant the Gospel seed in the lives of others, so that they too can accept Christ as Savior.

What do we have to gain by bearing fruit? Only getting whatever we ask for in Jesus’ name! “And I appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will remain—so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you” (John 15:16).

That’s enough motive to keep my eyes peeled on God.

Third, self-interested people are more likely to be lured away by the enemy.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

A moment of distraction is all Satan needs to exploit our selfish desires. As we pursue selfish desires, Satan sabotages our efforts to abide in the Word of God. The fruit of neglect to the Word is disobedience.

Disobedience leads to painful mistakes that adversely affect our life and the lives of those we love.

Obedience begins with loving God with all our heart, soul and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways . . . (Luke 9:23).

And Jesus emphasized, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)

All of these require us to put God first, which cannot be accomplished if we’re too busy focusing on our “selfies.”

In the end, we stand to lose a lot more than a good chuckle; we stand to lose the wonderful protections and blessings of God.

The Passover Connection to Christianity

IMG_1326Jesus has had many titles. Among them: Messiah, Christ, Lord, Master, Son of God, Son of Man, the Word, King of the Jews, Son of David, and Emmanuel, to name a few.

John the Baptist, a Jew, addressed Jesus as the “Lamb of God.”

The Lamb of God has particular significance for unpacking the connection between the Jewish tradition of Passover and Jesus.

The Jewish Passover celebrates the Israelites’ divine deliverance from Egyptian slavery, endowing the Passover with the dual themes of slavery and deliverance.

In the days of Moses, the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery was a physical one. As explained in the Jewish Haggadah, if not for divine intervention and the Exodus, the Jewish people would still be slaves in Egypt.

So, what was the divine intervention?

God ultimately delivered the Israelites from the oppressive Egyptian pharaoh through the sacrifice of a perfect lamb.

As directed by God through Moses, the Israelites were to spread the blood of such unblemished lamb over their doors so that the angel of death would “pass over,” sparing the lives of those inside.

It’s no coincidence that these same themes of slavery and freedom establish the foundation of Christianity.

Instead of physical enslavement, however, Christianity addresses deliverance from humanity’s enslavement to sin.

Why do we need liberation from sin?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Freedom from physical slavery is important. But freedom from spiritual enslavement to sin is essential.

We can be physically free from bondage in this life and still be spiritually enslaved to sin.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Thus, everyone, both Jew and Gentile, needs to be saved from sin.

As predicated at the Passover, the only way to be freed from our enslavement to sin is through the blood of another perfect lamb: Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist knew the purpose that Jesus came to accomplish. “‘The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” (John 1:29).

Like the unblemished lamb at Passover, God required an unblemished human to stand in the place of our judgment and spare our eternal lives. And since Jesus was the only human who never sinned, He was the only sacrifice able to atone for the sins of humanity.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The sacrifice of the perfect lamb at Passover foreshadowed (in form) the ultimate freedom that Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to accomplish (in substance).

Christ’s death and resurrection breaks the chains that bind us to sin and spiritual death. The consequence spiritual death is eternal separation from our Creator.

We can avoid this devastating consequence by accepting Christ’s sacrifice, enabling the angel of eternal spiritual death to “pass over” us as well.