week we discussed the question—do you really know the One you're
worshiping if you go Lone Ranger worshiper and discard the church as
a place to meet God?
Clearly pondering this whole weighty matter.
it gets more personal. Another good question we don't ask is—do we
really know ourselves, either? How does the church give us ourselves,
our better selves, when we're asking it to do its job? Perhaps more
importantly, how willing are we to let it?
Why Go To Church? To See Myself
have a teenage daughter. In case you don't have one of that species,
there is a particular trait of teenage girls you need to know. They
take pictures. Of themselves. Constantly. We're not even surprised
anymore to see a girl standing in the middle of Target making strange
faces into her palm (where the smart phone lies) with no reference to
those around her. Not too long ago,we would have found this behavior
disturbing enough to warrant concern for her mental health. Now—it's
And pondering some more
funny thing happens when you stare at yourself for too long. You lose
all outside reference. Your only compass for what you look like is
yourself. At its worst, this turns into eating disorders for girls
who see only their flaws. On the other side, it turns into an
unhealthy reliance on, and leveraging of, one's looks for value.
you're the only one in the photo, you have no reference point for who
you are and what you're like.
you're not in a community, you have no reference point for
discovering who you are in a larger picture. When you're taking
spiritual selfies, you've taken everything out of the picture that
could help you measure where you've grown, where you need to, or
where you could help someone else.
a culture obsessed with taking spiritual selfies. [tweet this]
I don't mean we need to be in “community” as in “Sure, I'm I
community. I've got lots of friends. (Mostly online.) We talk about
deep stuff, dude.They all agree with my opinions, and we all hate the
same things. It's great.”
cheap community. It's not New Testament community. Not the messy
place we see rich and poor, male and female, black and white, coming
together and making one beautiful thing out of diversity. The crazy
zoo of behavior that needs correcting, correctors who need softening,
and grace that needs to cover it all. That's the community of the
Is this my "we don't like it" face?
don't like it. It's messy. It challenges us. It changes us. Selfies
are infinitely simpler.
selfies never tell us who we are. Nothing does like wading through
the messy stuff with another person--another real person with messy
stuff of her own with whom we have to learn our own brand of grace
and challenge. Nothing tells us who we are like looking into someone
else's perception and seeing what he likes--or doesn't like. Nothing
sharpens us like putting down the camera directed at self and taking
up the mirror someone else is holding.
not comfortable. I've heard those challenging words from time to
time. But it's changed me. I discovered things about myself I would
have never known if I had believed I had no need of the church to
call me out and make me better.
There is a reason grown women do not take selfies.
go to church? To see in a mirror what I can't see by myself. [tweet this].To see a
better version of me I can become. To be with people who are trying
to become better versions of themselves and help them along the way
as they help me. You can try to make a pilgrimage on your own, but why would
you? In all of literature, it's done in community. There's a reason
some churches take advantage of their power to guilt and shame you
into changing rather than walk with you into it. But at its best, God
intends for it to be the best possible place to journey together
because the people there know better than anyone the value of mercy
and the power of God's invitation to change.
to take selfies, or accept the challenge to see yourself in the big
picture? Change happens in the context of community.