I don’t know why we still call them phones. For most of us, that little (or, in more and more cases, not so little) device we carry with us 24/7 is probably used the least as a phone. It connects us with the Internet . . . it plays our music . . . is used as our Daytimer (who remembers those?) . . . tracks how many steps we’ve taken today . . . allows us to communicate with our thumbs. But I guess we call it a phone because “personal computer” has already been taken. And the reason I’m thinking about this is that for everything our phones do, for more and more people, it has also become the camera of choice. Cue the selfie.
I don’t know if it’s an official new word . . . but it shows up in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Even if it’s not an official word, pretty much everyone knows it . . . and, it seems, everyone’s doing it. All you need is a phone, your arm, and your face . . . or your face and as many faces as you can cram next to your face. And for the exceptionally well prepared and advanced student, you’re carrying a selfie-stick with you wherever you go. Extends the arm . . . allows more faces to be crammed together or more of the background to be captured. Crazy!
Ok . . . so two paragraphs in and you’re wondering, “Where’s this going?” What could he possibly be reading in the Bible that gets him thinking about phones that aren’t really phones and this new craze in self-portraits. Well, here it is. As I’m reading in Ephesians this morning it occurs to me that every time a child of God takes a pic of themselves with their phone, it’s either of the old-selfie or the new-selfie.
. . . put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, . . . be renewed in the spirit of your minds, . . . put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV)
After three glorious chapters of inventorying all that is the believer’s “in Christ,” Paul shifts to the practical implications of this divine reality. And so he says, “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (4:17). Don’t do it, he says. Don’t go around living like the person you used to be . . . don’t do life after the natural man, the man governed by the sinful nature. Don’t give yourself up to hardness of heart . . . to living to fulfill your lusts . . . to unbridled, impure living. Because that’s your old self. The one who was crucified with Christ. The nature that was in rebellion to kingdom. It’s gone. Don’t live like it isn’t.
Instead, says Paul, put on the new self. Note that it’s not, “work your way up” to the new self. It’s “put it on.” By the renewing of the mind — through the pursuit of God’s word and way through the power of God’s Spirit — you “slip into” those robes of righteousness that are yours in Christ. The new self isn’t some self-improvement program, it’s a reality to wear. In Christ, the believer has been re-created after the likeness of God. Because of the nature of Christ imputed to them, that is, credited to their account, the believer possesses “true righteousness and holiness.” The work is finished . . . His holiness has been woven into us . . . it’s who we are in Christ through the Spirit. The task for us is to put it on. That’s the new self.
So every time I pause to take inventory of how I’m choosing to live my life . . . every time I take a moment to look in the mirror . . . every time I whip out the phone and take a selfie, it’s a picture which captures me either living like the old self . . . or of me living in the truth of the new self. It’s either an old-selfie or a new-selfie.
Might be interesting some time to go back over those tons of photo’s sitting in our phones, and reflect, “Old-selfie or new-selfie?”
New-selfies. That’s what you want, says Paul (kinda). Living as who we are in Christ and not as who we once were when we were “darkened in our understanding.”
Here’s to phones throughout the church which are packed with pictures of the new-selfie.
All because of grace . . . all for His glory.