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The Selfie Gospel

For people will be lovers of self... - 2Timothy 3: 2a (ESV)

The nature of man has always been self absorbed. The nature of our country has always been - what's in it for me? The nature of our relationships seems to embrace - what have you done for me lately? The truth is that the flesh is always selfish. Yet in these last days, we seem to want to take it to previously unforeseen heights. This has certainly not caught God by surprise. The key verse today is a portion of 2Timothy 3:2. I usually abhor splitting verses because of context but this verse is a list of the things we will see people embrace in the last days instead of Jesus. It says we will become arrogant, abusive and lovers of money. It says we will be heartless, slanderous and brutal. Realize, these verses deal with believers not the world. It says they will have the appearance of godliness yet deny the very power that could make them Godly in what they do. One need only to survey the landscape of the modern church to see these truths are becoming evident. A church that is money focused, brutal with how they treat disagreement, and arrogant in how they mangle the Word of God. The religiosity with pomp and circumstance carries the appearance piety but the lack of the Holy Spirit ensures the lack of Godliness. 

And why? Because we are at our heart - lovers of self. The first thing noted in this list is lovers of self. One of the fastest growing trends today is known as the "selfie." This essentially is when we take a picture of ourself and display it through social media. So enamored with ourselves have we become that the Oxford English Dictionary proclaimed the word of the year for 2013 was "selfie." A celebration of unbridled narcissism, the usage of the word selfie has increased 17,000 times over since 2012 alone. Samsung discovered that 30% of the pictures taken by people 18-24 were in fact selfies. Christianity however is far from being about self:

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. - Matthew 16: 24 (ESV)

Within the teachings of seeker friendly church growth and purpose driven church building, you will probably never hear preaching on this verse. Part of it is that we do not want to hear that we are following anyone. Jesus after all has been reduced to our good buddy instead of our Lord. Taking up our cross will certainly not be exposited because the Christianity being sold today requires no heavy lifting. It is built upon a cheap grace where Jesus did everything so we are required to do nothing. A lovey-dovey, sugar coated, diabetic, puppies and rainbows gospel that has the power to appeal to everyone and save no one. In other words - a selfie gospel. 

Because the real Gospel according to this verse from Matthew requires us to deny ourselves. Christianity is not supposed to be about us it is supposed to be about Him. It is not supposed to be about what God can do for me but rather what He has already done for me on Calvary. Yet constantly around Christendom we see and hear the absolute denial of these facts from people who claim the mantle of Christianity. It can become frustrating at times trying to speak truth in love to a generation that appears more enamored with themselves than Jesus. The selfie gospel is essentially making God in our own image. It takes a verse here or there, usually out of context and building a false theology around it. Or it is based upon emotion and personal feelings rather than truth. I have had conversations with good well intended Christians who do not even realize they are engaging in constructing their own doctrine. In discussing Joel Osteen yesterday for example someone told me that they listen to him because he makes them feel hopeful and positive. Well that's fantastic but wouldn't we rather hear real hope? Wouldn't we rather hear the hope that comes from the real Gospel? The hope of glory perhaps? The hope of the entire world? But that's not a selfie. Because the real Gospel is about Jesus Christ. Joel Osteen is on record as saying he doesn't care if he waits until the end of his sermon to even bring a Scripture out at all. Beloved self help and motivational gospels are selfie gospels. They are about us instead of Him. Prosperity gospels are about us instead of Him. This is the answer to why false teachers are so successful. We love the selfie:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. - 2Timothy 4: 3-4 (ESV)

And wandered we have. I speak to Christians all the time who state that they choose to focus on love. God is love. God said we are to love everyone. By our love they will know us. People who have biblical apathy and spiritual illiteracy creating whole doctrine from splinters of the Bible. Don't preach to me about love if you are not going to preach about the truth as well:

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady--not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning--that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. - 2John 1: 1-6 (ESV)

I understand it is not always easy. I understand the desire to have our itching ears soothed. The Gospel however is not an etch a sketch where we can dissolve the portions that make us uncomfortable and recreate them in our own image. God can deliver us, protect us, and provide for us and as soon as we are left to our own devices we are out building golden calves to worship. Because the golden calf is a creation of our own hands. It is a selfie. We need to lose our apathy when it comes to the Word of God and realize that all of it applies; not just the warn fuzzy parts. We need to lose our illiteracy when it comes to the spiritual war we are in. When we sit in a church or listen to a sermon we need to ask ourselves who it is all about? Is it about the God we claim to serve? His greatness? His mercy? His salvation? Or is it about us somehow. How we can feel better about ourselves. How we can become a better this or that. Seven steps to being a better sinner. We need to stop seeking out that which "makes us feel good." Or makes us feel relevant. Or makes us feel anything other than reverent awe for the God we serve. All else is pure folly all else is chasing the wind. All else are selfie gospels focused on us instead of God.

Rev. Anthony. 

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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