A honest ‘selfie’

We must align inner lives with outer presentations, APCE hears

January 31, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif.

As the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year, “selfie” has become a major theme in our society. Self-portraits typically taken with smartphones, selfies show their subjects in the most flattering light and positions.

But as Christians, we know that we are far from perfect, even though we like to deny our sinfulness, said the Rev. Barbara J. Essex, speaking at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators annual event Jan. 30.

“Psalm 51 reminds us that we are never as perfect as we think,” she said, focusing on verses 6-12.

Many people are uncomfortable with this passage because we don’t like to talk about sin, Essex said. Instead, we rationalize, scapegoat or highlight the sins of public figures. But when we do this, “we disconnect ourselves from God, from one another and even ourselves,” she said.

Although we can make ourselves look flawless in a selfie, we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that it’s an accurate depiction of real life. In the psalm, David prays for a pure heart with an urgency that we need. Psalm 51 allows us to clean up our profiles so that our inner lives align with our outer presentations. We love God with our whole selves when we lay ourselves bare and reboot to our factory settings, Essex said.

“Do you dare imagine what the world would be like if we prayed this prayer and embraced it with our whole being … ‘create in us a clean heart,’” Essex said.

  1. Thank you Bethany Daily for reporting on what was said by Barbara Essex at the APCE conference. We do forget sometimes that God looks on the heart rather than the squeaky clean and shining "selfie" we project. I love her use of the phrase "reboot to our factory settings" as a modern way to explain how God cleanses and renews us when we repent our sins. It is an apt phrase for a culture that often does not understand our Bible speak.

    by Marie Bowen

    February 3, 2014

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