By Jacqueline J. Holness
When Oxford Dictionaries announced that their word of 2013 winner was selfie, the Facebook fanatic within me thought it was the appropriate choice, given the selfies that friends incessantly post on their profile pages. If this is your first time learning about the word, a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
I love it when friends post selfies after working out because they inspire me to work out. I feel like I am traveling with my friends when they post selfies on vacation. However, I’m always grateful I’m not driving anywhere near my friends when they post selfies en route in their vehicles!
As lighthearted as the word selfie seems, its dictionary addition is yet another example within our culture that we are in the “last days.” In 2 Timothy 3:1-4 we are told, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves
. . . rather than lovers God.” Here are a few examples of how our culture has become lovers of ourselves rather than lovers of God:
Some people flock to leaders, ministers, and teachers who say what they want them to say rather than striving to hear what God has said. In 2 Timothy 4:3 it is stated, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
I have noticed that some religious leaders have no problem speaking about Heaven—but speaking about Hell seems taboo. In fact, Brian Jones, who wrote the book Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) confessed that while he was the minister of Northern Hills Christian Church in Dayton, Ohio, he didn’t believe in Hell. In a Christian Post article, reporter Michelle A. Vu asked Jones how he avoided speaking on Hell. He responded, “I always assumed the concept of Hell was a concept not referenced that often. That it was in the periphery of Christian doctrine and so I view it in my mind and reasoned, ‘I am just never going to preach it,’ which I didn’t.”
Another example is that many find it easier to rely on themselves rather than God. In the New York magazine article “The Self in Self-Help,” Kathryn Schulz noted that the self-help industry is worth $11 billion! She referenced fourth century “self-help guru” Saint Augustine who observed in his work Confessions that “the mind gives an order to the body and is at once obeyed, but when it gives an order to itself, it is resisted.” Schulz rightfully asked, “Can self-help work if we have no idea how a self works?”
In John 15:5 we are told, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Don’t get me wrong—I am a huge supporter of the self-help industry, but I also know it is only God who empowers me to apply what I learn from any self-help guru.
One of the most insidious signs that we are elevating ourselves over God is the increasing acceptance of using his name in vain. OMG stands for “Oh My God,” and people casually use this term to express anything from delight to disdain.
In fact, the use of the term has become so widespread that John Donvan on Nightline interviewed teenagers about the use of OMG in texting. The students were from the Washington Hebrew Congregation youth group in Bethesda, Maryland. One student said, “If you say something like ‘Oh my God,’ then you’re using his name in vain, but if you’re saying something like OMG, it’s not really using the Lord’s name in vain because you’re not saying ‘Oh my God.’ It’s more like ‘Wow. Really?’”
It seems that we are forgetting that we are clearly instructed to “not misuse the name of the Lord your God” in Exodus 20:7.
It is tempting to see shifts in language, attitude, or beliefs as innocuous. However, as Christians we must consult the Word, using our discernment to be ready for Christ’s return. May this also give us pause to consider what kind of selfies we are publicizing to the world. Are they sending the messages we truly want to say?
Jacqueline J. Holness, a member of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is a correspondent for Courthouse News Service,
an online, national news service for attorneys. Contact Jacqueline at afterthealtarcall.com.