Selfies are all the rage. Even if you don’t sport the appearances of a movie star or boast the bankroll of a business mogul, people are still glued to their cell phone self-snaps with all the affection of a bear for honey. They will set themselves on fire, drop freefall from an airplane, run with bulls, howl at the moon, and parade about in their birthday suit, triumphantly proclaiming through Imgur, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Youtube with tweets: “look at me! Aren’t I something!?”
Yes, people, we are something. Made in the image and likeness of God, yet frightfully absorbed with rapt attention on one’s own mug, pandering to a crowd for attention, we are the age of selfies…centered on "me" clamoring for affirmation from others who are also focused on themselves.
“When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith?” Heck, will he find anything but self-love? Jesus came to warn us about ourselves, how very much we rely on God notwithstanding our own determination to live apart from Him as we might. If only we could see rightly, we’d understand that it isn’t crowd approval I need but God’s unending loving glances that get me through the thick and thin of things. But Principalities and Powers cloak our efforts to walk humbly in the presence of God, as we who so love to proclaim our freedom are ignorantly shackled to sin, not much better than bags of gold with holes.
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Haggai 1:3-6).
No one likes to work hard only to lose what they had, yet even those who assiduously take persnickety care of this world’s goods end up as paupers--who can take it with them? Our Lord assures us, “the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Earthquakes, famines, plagues, and wars will take place, and eventually death will come for us all. What will the preoccupation with one’s worldly self achieve then? All bargaining power will have left us at that point. When it is time to settle with the Just Judge, will we have promoted others more than ourselves? If not, who will we have to come to our defense, for a sure and certain accounting awaits us all, as the Word of God proclaimed. Before the Son of Man can be seen, “first He must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation” (Lk. 17:25).
What is this that Our wonderful Creator has prepared for us, that we must reject him as an age occasioned by the fall of Original Sin only to be redeemed by His merciful Son and brought to fulfillment with His gracious Holy Spirit? What selfless love God has for His wayward creation!
I am reminded in all of this of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s epic poem, Ozymandius (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozymandias):
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
The Age of Selfies points to themselves and declares: “Look on my self, Ye Mighty, and affirm!” The age of faithful Christians counters with an even greater liturgical chant: “Look on Him whom you have pierced…and adore!”