Americans are self-obsessed. I have proof.
As I sat in Panera Bread, typing away on my computer, a man across the restaurant grabbed my attention. The seats around me were quite empty, just a few couples chatting over coffee and a few other booths occupied by men and women busy on their laptops. But one man was not busy chatting with a friend, eating a sandwich or clicking away on a computer. This man walked in, took a seat at a big booth, took out his camera and began his own personal photo shoot.
By my best estimation I would guess that this man was in his fifties. He sported a gray head of balding hair that was styled into a well groomed combover. His beard was in a matching shade of gray. Even his sweatshirt seemed to be picked to match his hair color. He sat at his booth alone, with a book unopened in front of him. He apparently had no time to read. He needed to get some picture taking in first. He lifted up his phone high in the air, the camera focused down on his face. He looked up into the lens and made different faces as he clicked away. Some faces were more serious while others had a hint of a smile.
After a sufficient number of clicks he lowered the phone and began reviewing the shots. He must have been satisfied with his work because he clicked a bit more, a little smirk coming across his face, then put down his phone and picked up his book. With the selfies out of the way he could now relax and read. But only for a moment because within minutes he was out the door with book, coffee and phone in hand. Time to move on to the next location for a selfie photo shoot.
Now maybe this seems a bit extreme to assume that this man indicates that the whole American population is self-obsessed. I argue that it isn't extreme enough. Not only is America self-obsessed but human beings are self-obsessed. We are in a constant state of "selfies". I needn't look any further than my own life to find sufficient examples of self-absorbed living.
When I stop and think about my daily thought life and the errands and actions that take high priority in my day, I feel the sting of guilt over my own selfish heart. The top to do's on my list are always what benefit me and further my own agenda and desires. My thoughts tend to follow suit. More often than not I pray for me and think about my own obstacles, dilemmas and circumstances. Once I have sufficiently thought about myself I can think about someone else. But only for a moment! Because before you know it I'm just like that man at Panera Bread. I'm up and on to my next self-consumed endeavor.
This is certainly not the way Jesus intended for me to live. He didn't come to save me so that I could serve myself and be consumed with my own wants, desires and needs. He didn't even come to live that way for Himself! As Mark 10:45 says, "For even the son of man came not to be served but to serve." Jesus didn't come for self-service or for others to serve Him. His own fulfillment was the least of His concerns. His number one priority was serving others. Jesus, the perfect King, lived with the sole purpose of being a servant.
While operating off of my own flesh tendencies I live with the purpose of self-service. My top priority is me. I concern myself with satisfying my own thirsts and fulfilling my own longings. At the end of the day there is little left to give in service for others.
With one look to the life of Jesus and His commands I am brought to repentance for my selfishness. My narcissistic heart needs to continually submit to the Lord, intentionally and purposefully aligning my life with His commands. When I do that, when I put the brakes on my own human flesh, I immediately see the error of my ways. By looking to Jesus and reading His words in scripture I see the error in living for my own self-interests.
My prayer is that God will continue to stir my heart to abandon my selfish ways and embrace life as a servant. I want to live by the words of Galatians 5:13-15: "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
A life of "selfies" may satisfy for a moment but where is the eternal value? When I reach Heaven and stand before God He won't be asking to look at my iPhone's camera roll. His concern won't be how successful I was in fulfilling my every desire or how diligent I was at completing chores on my agenda. He'll be looking at my service. It is a life poured out for others, serving the needs and desires of my neighbors, that will stand the test of time. Then I might hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:21).