If God took a selfie, what would it look like? An old man with a beard, doing a duck face? Buddy Christ, giving the thumbs up? You might not think that God is into selfies, but God is the selfie original. We like to share our lives with self-made images, and so does God. But God does it without needing to flash hand signs or strike a pose. Let’s see what it looks like when God takes a selfie.
Show Us the Father
Jesus is God’s selfie. Hebrews 1:3 says, He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being. In John 14:8-9, Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Throughout all of human history, people have tried to imagine God. With the incarnation, imagination was no longer necessary. Jesus is the exact likeness of God.
Jesus said if you want to know what God is like, all you have to do is look at him. This was a HUGE development in spirituality from the days when Moses gave the law saying, You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:4). “Graven images” were prohibited so people could worship the Creator rather than the creation. Depicting God with images of birds, beasts, or fish might confuse people into worshiping the photo instead of the photographer. The problem was that without an image of God, people were getting their ideas of God completely wrong.
A False Impression of God
Your picture of God is important because that image can give a true or false impression. For example, scriptures completely miss the boat when they describe a god who loves punishment, torture, violence, and retribution. Through Jesus, we learn that isn’t an accurate picture of who God is, because God is love (1 John 4:8).
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a describes love this way: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Scripture fails with any description of a god that incites war or commands people to commit atrocities because it shows a false image of who God is. What we need is a more accurate picture of God.
In an effort to prevent inaccurate depictions of God, Moses’ law forbade graven images. The problem is that it also prevents good depictions. Without any images at all, God becomes a mere concept, open to our flawed interpretation. Henri Rousseau said, “God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” Without a positive image of God, humanity decided God resembled us.
Jesus: God’s Self-Portrait
Galatians 6:7 says, Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. Having created a human-shaped picture of God, we have justified all sorts of evil in the name of religion. We have sown evil, and reaped bloodshed. So God needed a divine selfie to come into the world, to correct our view of who God is. 1 John 4:9 says, God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Jesus is God’s self-portrait, appearing on earth to demonstrate what God is truly like. Living through him means understanding another truth:
What It Looks Like When God Takes a Selfie
What it looks like when God takes a selfie is–You! You are Jesus’ selfie. Just as Jesus is the exact representation of God, Jesus wants you to be a copy of him. Colossians 1:15 says He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Jesus is unique in his preeminence on the world stage. His teaching about love and grace surpasses that of any other religious leader. Only Jesus could depict God’s love so perfectly, by forgiving his murderers who hung him on the cross. Romans 8:29b says that God wants all believers…to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. While Jesus is preeminent, there’s a place in God’s selfie for you.
A Positive Anthropology
Unfortunately, the church for far too long has told Christians that they are dirty rotten scoundrels, filthy worms, reprobates with reprobate minds. Recently I heard one pastor ask his congregation, “What’s the first word you think of when you think of yourself?” One man called out the first answer, “Sinner!” His response represents the church’s indoctrination that we are mere products of Adam’s fall.
The problem, says Father Richard Rohr, is that we start with a negative anthropology, so we get negative theology. He says you can’t have a good theology unless you start with a positive anthropology. It starts with how we see ourselves. Sometimes our selfies don’t turn out that great, because we start out with a darkened view of who we are. The same is true in the spirit–when we start out believing we’re bad, it messes up the God-selfie Jesus wants to send to the world, with your face in it.
I like the New Living Translation’s interpretation of Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. When God crafted the world, the Creator declared everything to be good. It was only after God made humanity that the divine artist called creation very good (Genesis 1:31). That’s because we were made in the image of God—not wretched worms but selfies of Christ.
Friends Rub Off on You
We’ve got to change our anthropology to understand ourselves from God’s perspective. God doesn’t see you as some wretch who needs to grovel at the feet of a heavenly king. In John 15:15, Jesus said, I do not call you servants any longer…but I have called you friends. The more we hang out with our friends, the more we become like them. Friends rub off on you. Jesus invites you to hang out with him, to become like him.
Jesus doesn’t pity you, put up with you, or grudgingly spend time with you. Jesus doesn’t just love you–he actually likes you! He likes you so much that he wants to be seen with you, and in you. Because you are the best picture of God that the world can see these days. So Jesus whips out his smartphone and says, “Come, gather close. I want to take a picture, and I want you in it. God’s taking a selfie–so smile!”