Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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My son-in-law Steve used to work in the magazine business and earlier this week we were gabbing about …magazines. Life Magazine in particular. Life was published weekly from 1883 to 1972, and Life was full of life! I remember as a child turning page after page, absorbing pictures of buildings, the Alaskan earthquake, historic people, places and things. Their final weekly issue was put out with a year-in-review and the word ‘goodbye’ appearing on the back cover.

Times were a-changing in America, and following the demise of Life came new magazines; People and Self magazines among them. As Steve and I talked, our conversation morphed from People and Self into “selfies.” It’s an interesting phenomenon actually. Selfies aren’t inherently good or bad, unless a person becomes totally absorbed in their self-snapping self-portraits, but it’s curious to see just how far some will go to get the perfect “selfie shot.” Between 2008 and 2021 alone, 379 people died from attempting to “selfie” themselves; some fell off cliffs, others tumbled from buildings, one was killed by a bear, and a few were run over by trains. For sure, being too self-centered has its drawbacks!

I recently read of a speech given by a valedictorian a while back. At the beginning, he thanked his dad – always a good start – but as the speech continued it became truly troubling. “My father taught me an important lesson,” he said. “He told me throughout my entire life that I am the most important person in the world.” Again and again throughout his speech, this student spoke of how he was the most important person in the world. Sadly, I believe this very attitude is absolutely destroying our society! As someone once said, “If I am both actor and audience, I probably made the play about myself. And if I did, it’s going to have a very short run.” I would love to know how that high school valedictorian is doing these days!

Those leading a self-centered life are those who rage at others in traffic; it’s the root of rudeness on sports fields, and in lines at retail stores! When you are the most important person in the world, the feelings of others are meaningless, as self-centered persons have priorities that are totally out of focus. In stark contrast, seeking and pursuing a relationship with God is life’s highest calling, and our attitudes and desires are thus altered for the good by having an encounter with Him.

Far too many people conduct their lives cafeteria-style: self-service only. Somebody once quipped, “From where I’m sitting, I am the center of the universe.” I think that “sitter” needs to scoot over! Jesus taught us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Basically, we can’t love our neighbor as we should unless we love ourselves first. It’s a delicate dance for sure, but it’s not brain surgery.

We all have choices and priorities here – many people choose to be self-centered, others are hobby or work-centered, and still others choose to be family-centered. But whatever our priorities are in life, we are first called to be God-centered – He then becomes our greatest source of power as we see our talents and purposes in life benefiting others. Without this infusion of The Almighty, understanding the needs of others will never realize their full potential in our lives! Instead, selfies will continue to thrive!!

There’s a tragic story involving Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian born author who loved to collect butterflies and moths in his spare time. Once, Vladimir was staying with friends in Alta, Utah where he took the opportunity to pursue his hobby. He returned one evening saying that while tracking down a certain butterfly near Bear Gulch, he had heard someone groaning wretchedly down by the stream. His host asked him, “Did you stop?” “No,” came the reply. “I had to get the butterfly.” The following day the corpse of an aged prospector was discovered. Bear Gulch has since been renamed Dead Man’s Gulch, in honor of Nabokov. What a pitiful legacy to self-obsession!

Someone once remarked, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.” That line could just possibly be the ultimate non-selfie of our time!

—-

Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA. For more information, you can visit them at DPCityChurch.org

Susan Beckett | Dwelling Place City Church

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