by Kristen Narara
When was the last time you saw a photo posted online of someone who just woke up looking like Medusa – and it wasn’t a prank? Or a picture of someone’s house when it was a filthy mess?
With digital technology I can easily clean up the pixels of things that embarrass me. I have free rein to be the me that Photoshop always knew I could be! Admittedly, I’ve just uploaded a new profile photo of myself that was taken by a professional photographer. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with using technology in this way.
That’s because according to the biblical understanding of the self-seeking human heart, I know that digital technology is not to fault for my sinful self-centeredness. Before the advent of social media and personal blogs I certainly had a desire to be admired.
So… if a picture is worth a thousand words, what am I trying to say with the images I share to portray my life? Speaking for myself at least, in a general sense I tend to offer a façade of perfection so that I can lead others to think I’ve got it all together. I want to invite people in to see my perfect world of a happy, clean, and intelligent child, my fairytale-romance marriage, and my staggering accomplishments in my three-star Michelin kitchen.
Like I said before, there’s no question in my mind that I would desire the praise of others even if I didn’t have a digital camera and social media outlets.
There are outside influences as well. Rarely am I encouraged by society to be truly honest with myself, to acknowledge my weaknesses, and to depend on someone other than myself. Instead, I am encouraged to look within myself, believe in myself, and depend on my own strength to get by.
But God’s wisdom is at odds with creating a façade of personal accolades:
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all…. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:5, 8-10
The gospel frees me to be honest with myself, especially in the area of confessing my sin.
The gospel tells me who I really am – a sinner who is utterly opposed to the holiness of God. I don’t need to create a façade that I’ve got it all together because the fact of Christ’s death on the cross makes it clear that I am not perfect.
The gospel frees me to see that my sin is my biggest problem, not that I didn’t get enough sleep last night or that I don’t have the body of a supermodel.
By being honest with myself before my loving Father I am led to repentance and faith in the saving work of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God did not spare his own Son, but freely gave him up for me, graciously forgiving me. (Romans 8:32).
So often I can get bogged down with “trying” to earn my right standing with God. But it is only the gift of Christ’s righteousness that allows God in his great holiness to look at me and delight in what he sees (Zeph. 3:17).
Because I have the steadfast love of the Lord (Lam. 3:22), I can be honest about my failures because doing so reminds me that my strength does not come from within my own self but from Christ who dwells within me. It is the gospel that frees from the burden of self-fulfillment and helps me to honestly accept that Christ’s power is made perfect in my weaknesses. When I am weak, then he is strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10)!
Because of God’s acceptance of me because of his Son (Rom. 8:1), I’m free to talk about my sin with others. I don’t have to airbrush my heart in order to win the approval of others. Instead, I want others to adore God—the God who saved a sinner such as I.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Kristen was born in Papua New Guinea and grew up in Australia. Kristen is a member of ECC Off-Island Church in Abu Dhabi along with her husband, Nigel (aka Captain Nigel), who is an airline pilot. They have one son, Kingston. Kristen is well known for her outstanding baking skills and hospitality, and can turn any stranger into her friend for life.