At the end of every year, selects its International Word of the Year. This is a word that has become so popular, so widely used, that it gets tagged by the wordsmiths down Oxford as the one word in the English language that gets top billing for the year. It’s like a vocabulary hall of fame.

In order for a word to even qualify as a candidate for Word of the Year, it has to be a word that (according to the Oxford website),

“reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and must have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.”

Do you know what the word was for 2013?

That’s right.

Oxford defines the word as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

In 2013 alone, researchers estimate that the frequency of the use of the word selfie spiked…17,000%. Do a simple search on Instagram for #selfie, and you’ll get 75 Million Results. Of the total number of photographs taken by 18-24 year olds? 1 in 3 are selfies.

What does that mean?

I mean, let’s be clear. There’s nothing inherently bad about selfies.

I love a good selfie. They’re fun. A well done selfie can help chronicle the special events you want to share with others, in real time, even as they are unfolding. My family takes them all the time. We take beach selfies, hiking selfies, and my personal favorite: ski chair life selfies.

A well-timed selfie can help us tell the story of us.

The question I sometimes wonder is…what are the stories our selfies are telling?

When you think about it, selfies really aren’t all that new. Many of the greatest works of art by the great artists throughout history have been self-portraits…even as early as the 16th century.

Later, in the 19th century, Vincent Van Gogh produced some 43 selfies in under 10 years. All of them giving some glimpse into his own identity and sense of self. Each one revealing something, about that which was hidden deep within, as he went through the stages of his life. The Crossroads. The turning points. The seasons of celebration and crisis. Study a Van Gogh selfie long enough, and it begins to reveal something about who he was.

What do the selfies we take reveal about us?

Do they reveal our true selves? Or do they project something else.

Something better. Something prettier. Something sexier. Something worth a few more “likes.”

Fact: You and I have the ability to control the image we want to project. Not just in pictures, but in life. We can choose our filter, crop the edges, and post our lives in such a way that we portray only the best, most flattering angles of us; and never let on that down beneath the surface, there is a pain behind the pixels.

But is that the goal?

See, Jesus had some things to say about this.

About the true self and the false self.

About what defines us, shapes us, gives us our identity. And what doesn’t.

He taught us that the most beautiful life is the one that is authentically lived out of a deep and abiding relationship with God. He showed us not only what God thinks of us, but also how you and I can do life in a way that lives up to and into what God thinks of us.

That’s why I want to invite you to join us at Johns Creek Baptist as we explore a new series, entitled #Selfie.

For five weeks, we’re taking a close look at what scripture has to say about who we really are in Christ, and how it’s really possible to live out of that identity…our truest identity…every single day.

It is possible for your inner life and your outer life to match; and for that life to be grounded in Christ. Come and join us, as we explore how.

Shaun King
Senior Pastor
Johns Creek Baptist Church

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