Humility can be such a misleading word. It's easy to hate those who go out of their way to appear humble—why? Because we feel like they're being fake just to win the approval of others. At the same time, we don't like a show off either. This brings me to Instagram.
Instagram is sensational—we get to instantly know which friends care about our lives. Pastor and author Judah Smith sums it up pretty well by saying that Instagram, in many ways, is a perpetual scoreboard of our social relevance. It's an incredible outlet to be either really insecure, or falsely confident in our life and our achievements.
Instagram is basically a highlight reel of your life. If your feed is anything like mine, it will usually contain some of the best places you've been, some of the best food you've either made or eaten, and some of the best shots of yourself dressed to the nines to go to that thing that is pretty swanky.
At the same time, you can be scrolling down your news feed, and that one person is always seems to be doing something amazing. You know what I'm talking about, right? That one person who, no matter what time of year it is, still manages to be on holidays, or gloating about their awesome job, or their fantastic meal, or outfit or pet or whatever... but I want to tell you something:
With all the cropping, filters and angles that Instagram encourages us to use, we need to know it isn't real.
It isn't truth.
Let's talk about truth. Honest to goodness, face in the mud, taking down the filters, stripping away the clever hashtags and flattering angles, and being genuine.
I get it. There is nothing sexy about talking about our reality—who we really are. We'd rather talk about who we could be. Let's talk about dreams, goals, ambition, passion, perseverance, but God hasn't called us to be a showcase of perfect people living life that is #blessed.
Following Jesus, on a surface level, might look pretty good. Joe Christian might look good, he smells good, he talks nice things, and he looooves everybody. But I ask myself this question: If someone were to take off the packaging and the advertisement of my life—the highlight reel on Instagram—and get to dig deeper and see what is inside, would they find a genuine product?
Would they find that what's inside is exactly what it says on the outside?
I believe that the type of people God has called us to be—no matter where we are in our journey with him—is to be humble enough to make ourselves look the same on the outside as we are on the inside. An authentic, genuine honesty and transparency inspiring the people around us to do the same.
I get it. This isn't easy, it isn't comfortable, especially on your own. It's so much easier to hide behind a mask, to apply a filter to our life, to our conversations and to our presentation so that we can feel accepted and appreciated. Humanity has been doing this since the beginning.
Adam and Eve hid from God, because they were afraid. They were afraid because they realised they weren't perfect—they'd messed up and they had nothing to hide behind: they were naked (see Genesis chapter 3, verses 8–10).
Now a thing of the world
God said life was going to get hard for them, because sin and brokenness was now a thing in the world. And so our tendency—humanities' tendency—is to hide behind a mask of perfection whenever we are confronted by the fact that we don't have it all together.
But the truth is Jesus Christ came to take away this mask by offering his grace despite our fears and our tendency to stretch the truth, or exaggerate our lives. He knows who we really are. He offers to bear our burden of imperfection and gives us the freedom of his perfection in exchange.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verses 16–18, it says:
'But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image'.
This is liberating!
It takes humility for us to accept Jesus. It certainly took all kinds of humility from Jesus for him to die for us. It takes humility to accept the truth about who we are—genuinely, on the inside—and who Jesus is.
Jesus to shine through us
It isn't our job to look awesome, as much as our culture tells us so. Being awesome is a job belonging to our Saviour. Our job is to ask Jesus to shine through us.
A truly genuine person is someone whose confidence is not in themselves, but in Christ. Someone who is not caught up with their own inadequacy, but focused on God, who sees it all and chooses to love them and shine through them just the same.
Can we all be real? It's such a terrible cliché isn't it? But this world is dying to know, be accepted and loved by real, authentic, genuine people. People who know they haven't got it all together. Who know that life isn't always going to be #sunshine&roses.
We don't have to have it all together to be loved by our Saviour—it takes humility. The humility to know who we are and look to Jesus.
Blaine Packer is a graduate of Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies who is passionate about media and mission. Currently residing in Launceston, Tasmania, Blaine is involved in both media and local ministry work at Door of Hope Christian Church.
Blaine Packer's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/blaine-packer.html