Moving from selfie to healthy

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

Welcome to the “Selfie” Generation! We live in a culture that encourages us to focus on self-worth, self-improvement, and self-esteem. Our self-image seems to be more important to us than a true sense of health and happiness. We don’t even need someone else to take our photo. We’ve invented the selfie stick!

Some would point back to the 60s and 70s to identify the beginnings of this generational shift towards self. The generation that came of age during that time has been called the Baby Boomers. In 1973, author Thomas Wolfe gave the Boomers another name due to their focus on self. He called them the “Me Generation.” I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the focus on self has only increased, so that a recent cover story in Time Magazine called the current generation of Millennials, the “Me, Me, Me Generation.”

However, I’m not sure that this generation is any more selfish than the previous ones. The truth is that all of humanity has been born with a selfish gene ever since the Fall. We all are born with a desire to do things our way, rather than God’s way. The Bible calls this attitude, sin. And it’s this sin, this selfish attitude that separates us from God and from one another.

What can we do? How can we change from “me” thinking to “we” thinking. How can we move from a “selfie” attitude to a “healthy” one?

First, we can recognize that God made us to be in fellowship with Him and with one another. After God made Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). As author and pastor, Randy Frazee, has written, “God  has built us with a connection requirement!” (Randy Frazee, Making Room for Life).

Recognizing the link between social ties and health, Dr. Shelley Taylor, research professor at UCLA, says, “Friendships play a far more important role in maintaining good health and having a long life than most people realize.  Social ties are the cheapest medicine we’ve got.”

Dr. Taylor  goes on to document that people with strong social networks are shown to:

  • Boost their chances of surviving life-threatening illnesses.
  • Have stronger, more resilient immune systems.
  • Improve their mental health.
  • Live longer than people without social support.

In other words, selfie living does not result in healthy living. We need one another. Not only do we need one another for physical and psychological health. We also need one another for spiritual health.

As the apostle Paul wrote, “I ask you not to think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers. Our bodies have many parts, but these parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other” (Romans 12:3-5 GW).

When you make the decision to take “self” off the throne of your life and to give Christ control, it results in a new spiritual life. It is this new life in Christ that connects us to God and to other believers, so that we begin to stop thinking of ourselves “more highly” than we should.  We begin to love God with all of our being, and to love our neighbor, as ourselves. 

The selfie photo might be a fun innovation, but selfie living is contrary to healthy living. Selfishness is killing us and it’s killing our world. We were created to be in communion with God and with one another. Only by turning from self to Christ, can we experience the oneness with God and with one another that will bring us true wholeness.

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