By Bailey Brawner
Oh yeah, you read it right. As I was scrolling through the news this afternoon, I came across an article from USA Today that spotlighted two different religious affiliations that were urging people to take selfies of themselves- post Ash Wednesday. I almost felt disgusted when I read it. How could anyone stoop to that level? However, I put on my progressive hat and rethought it. Now, I’m proudly posting my Ash Wednesday Selfie, and here are three reasons why.
1. We live in 2014.
Remember the days when we had to handwrite letters to people out of state if we wanted any sort of communication tie? If you’re like me, you probably don’t. As a 90’s baby, I grew up during the prime of technology advances. As a young adult, I’m knowledgeable and passionate about these advances. In fact, I’d argue that I spend more time engaging in being social on the computer than I do simply spending face time with people (which is not to be confused with FaceTime).
Let’s be real here. Our lives (young adults and beyond) seem to be primarily associated with technology. Texting, Facebook, email, blogging, you name it. I am never without my iPhone and can refresh the news feed on my social media accounts without looking at my screen. And am I ashamed about that? Not a bit. That’s where the current social norms are telling me and the rest of society to be. And that’s fine.
2. Can you say evangelism?
Evangelism has some connotations and standards that aren’t really seen to be admired. I think of evangelists as people on the street corner condemning people or going door to door, asking about peoples’ relationships with Jesus. It goes far beyond that though.
Evangelism is defined as the proclamation of the gospel, the spreading of the good news. The goal of evangelists is to show people God’s love, and they hope that by doing so, people will come to know Him. So is that not what we’re doing? Are we not all called to spread His love?
I’m an avid blog post reader, and I probably post at least one to Facebook or Twitter every day. When I do that, it reaches the hundreds of friends I have and the collection of followers. Granted, not everyone will read that post, but if that reach is one or two people, the good news has reached them. That’s evangelism.
So let’s take it to our topic, selfies. This Ash Wednesday Selfie that I just posted, that little grey cross on my forehead, is going to stir up something. Either people will be like, “Hey, what’s on your face bro?” or they might ask about it, or they may know the drill and acknowledge that you do too. The benefit of these selfies has nothing to do with how great your eyes pop in the picture or how many likes you can get, but rather, it’s an opportunity to tell people, “I believe in Jesus, and I’m in Lent for the long hall, starting today!” Or in so many words…
3. Accountability for the win!
So because Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, here’s your opportunity to get off on the right foot-or the right forehead in this case. That sweet little crossed forehead you’ve got as your new profile pic is your opener.
As much as I love the idea of following through with a goal that I set for myself, by myself, it rarely ever (meaning absolutely never) happens. There’s strength in numbers, and we need numbers to hold a sense of accountability.
Back in John Wesley’s time, he used to hold bible studies weekly where he’d ask his group members all these blunt, painstakingly honest questions. The group knew they would be checked up on, so they had a huge incentive to do what they needed to do in order to follow God’s commands.
The season of Lent is the same deal. If I tell myself and only myself that I’m giving up chocolate for these next forty days, you can be pretty certain I’ll be getting my brownies and Reese’s on when I road trip with my friends. Why? Because I can stifle my own accountability for justification. It’s simple. However, when my friend knows, he’ll have no problem asking what I’m doing. If you know someone’s watching you, the idea is that you will do as much as possible to do things right. So hey, tell your friends, fellow bloggers, Instagrammers, Tweeters (?), and anyone else who can keep your butt in line.
So let your selfie be a jumping-off point for yourself to kick it into full gear, and to spend the next forty days in a time of intentional giving up or addition of something, in order for you to grow closer to the one who created you and the one who loves you.
In case you’re wondering, here’s my Ash Wednesday Selfie. Jump on the bandwagon!
Thanks for reading!