“At the back of it there lies the central citadel of obstinacy: I will not give up my right to myself—the thing God intends you to give up if ever you are going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” Oswald Chambers
Can you imagine Jesus and his disciples running around taking selfies of themselves? Would they have taken a picture showing Jesus in the background walking on water and Peter going under? It would make sense that if they were going to take a selfie they would use this scenario.
Part of the selfie culture is showing ourselves with someone really well known or taking a selfie at someone else’s expense. Of course in this scenario both would be accomplished with Jesus being the celebrity and Peter sinking into the water giving everyone a good laugh at his expense.
Have you ever started to text the word selfie and the word selfish pops up instead? That happened to me a couple of times and has made me contemplate this issue in our most selfish world. For me it begs the question, ‘How can we be thinking of the kingdom of God when we are thinking about ourselves so much of the time?’
Throughout biblical history people have been extremely selfish. In the second book of Samuel we can read about the selfishness of King David having Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, murdered so that he could have her as his own.
In the book of Acts we have the story of a married couple, Ananias and Sapphira that sold a piece of property. The problem was that together they lied to the apostles about the money when there was no reason for them to do that. Just like King David, Ananias and Sapphira were selfish and thinking about themselves.
Jesus was the antithesis of these three. His unselfishness is recounted by Paul in Philippians 2:3-8 where we are instructed to imitate Christ’s humility.
‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!’
Wow! Are you kidding me? This Jesus gave up the throne of God on our behalf.
In today’s world we have pastors being referred to as evangelical rock stars who are building empires by some of our leading publications. Can you imagine Jesus being called an evangelical rock star and referring to the kingdom of God that he spoke of as his empire? And yet it could have happened if he had allowed it because there were those that wanted that from him.
But he didn’t. Because Jesus knew it was never about him. It was always about the kingdom of God and he never waivered in that commitment. Even when it got rough in the Garden of Gethsemane or in the excruciating pain he experienced on the cross.
Pure and simple. Jesus wasn’t selfish. He put all of us before himself and that is what he expects of his followers. To live a life that puts others and their interests before our own.
Reverend James Gertmenian speaks on what he calls "A culture of contempt: The selfishness of our lesser natures has taken over vast regions of the national soul." He says, "...We no longer seem interested in caring for one another, in caring for our neighbors, let alone strangers."
Pretty harsh commentary about Christianity from one our own. And we can get defensive about what he says or we can ask ourselves if there is any truth to it. If we are being honest, then we have to admit that we can be selfish and that often the kingdom of God takes a back seat to our own interests.
But there is another side to this. Followers of Jesus are often the first to respond to an international crisis like we did during the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004. Or to the famines that have plagued Africa. Or finally getting it right about AIDS and our money going to the anti-viral medication that has saved millions of lives. Or the thousands of youth and adults that come with Amor Ministries every year to build hundreds of homes alongside families in need.
So what does this have to do with taking the ultimate selfie? The picture we are to take as followers of Jesus is one that shows us doing the same thing we saw Jesus do in that passage in Philippians – humbling ourselves and taking the form of a servant.
That is why Amor wants you at the Global Gathering as a participant or a volunteer. To take the ultimate selfie with those from all over God’s globe who are committed to being less ‘me focused’ and more ‘kingdom focused!’
Join us at the Global Gathering this coming January to be a part of the group that puts the kingdom of God first and begins to restore the way that we care for one another.