The average person born after 1980 is expected to take approximately 25,000 selfies in their lifetimes. That’s a whopping 395 per year! Social media gives us a ready platform for all these selfies and the daily stories that go with them. It feels like we are starring in our own blockbuster movie day after day with likes and follows and comments from all of our adoring fans.
It is (and maybe always has been) a ‘me-me-me’ culture. We are obsessed with ourselves… our looks… our money… our fashion… our careers… our toys… our homes… our families… our happiness… our happiness… our happiness. Still, the United States is the number one consumer of anti-depressant medications. Still, most our children grapple more with ‘teen-age angst’ (the feelings of emotional turmoil and being misunderstood in ‘finding themselves’) and ‘affluenza’ (the malaise that comes from having everything money can buy but still feeling unfulfilled, unmotivated, and ungrateful) than they do with existential threats to their existence (like war, poverty, disease, or natural disasters that are faced by the less-fortunate).
In a me-me-me culture then, it is no surprise, that we elect politicians that reflect these me-me-me values. We elect the super-rich. We elect the super-famous. We elect the super-strong. We applaud ‘me first’ policies. We applaud tough talk that raises ‘me’ up even if it’s by beating others down. We reward our political leaders (both Republican and Democrat) who appeal to our me-me-me sensibilities… ones that are strong, no bull, fighters that will fearlessly lead us into a world in which we get everything we want.
The politics of Jesus is just the opposite:
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Jesus’ disciples often argued about who of them was going to be given the positions of greatest power and prestige when Jesus would come into power. They were thinking the way many of us think today in our me-me-me culture: how can I advance my position, become powerful, and get what I want. Jesus, however, had come to give himself away for others… to serve others… to sacrifice for others. He loved others and counted that love and service as more desirable than anything he could gain for himself. Of course, in giving himself away, paradoxically, he is given power and authority over all of creation. In giving himself away, he extends grace, forgiveness, and opportunity for salvation to a sinful me-me-me first world.
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus describes this way of life perfectly: “those who want to save their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for my sake will find it”. Maybe if we cared to serve and give more than to rule and receive we would actually be happier, more fulfilled, more content. Maybe in losing our me-me-me first lives we will find a much better and fuller life for ourselves and the world. Maybe if we extended that to our politics and political leaders we could replace divisive, partisan, mud-slinging, saber-rattling, me-first bravado with unifying, bridge-building, generous and compassionate servanthood.