File

File

Minister’s Message: God’s selfie

I can think of no one word that encapsulates our age, that defines our collective priorities and focus better than that innocuous little term

I remember when the term “selfie” started circulating widely throughout our country several years back.

Honestly, the very name made me gag. Selfie? Really? Ugh! Are there any peaks left to climb on the mountain of our collective narcissism?

So I refused to take selfies for years just on principle. And yet, it’s really not so surprising. In fact, I can think of no one word that encapsulates our age, that defines our collective priorities and focus better than that innocuous little term: selfie.

Inevitably, I, too, have been influenced by the camera’s turn from the world “out there” to the world of self.

And while we pull out our phones and fill our pockets with images of ourselves, this phenomenon isn’t unique to the 21st century. The emperor of Jesus’ day also stamped his selfie on the coins circulating throughout his empire, then he’d charge taxes to ensure that his selfie came back to him, so he might line his own pockets with images of himself.

This put the God-fearing Israelites in a tight spot. Are they to comply with the unjust tax upholding their oppressor or does their loyalty belong to God alone?

That’s essentially the question Jesus is asked in Matthew 22:15-22. A couple groups of ill-intentioned questioners approach Jesus to ask him, “is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

Now this question is meant to trap Jesus. Should he say “yes,” his crowd might turn on him and all of Jesus’ teachings about loyalty to God alone would be called into question. But if he says “no,” then he becomes an anti-imperial revolutionary that foments insurrection and sedition. An “all-or-nothing” response is lose/lose.

But Jesus sees through it and challenges the very premise of their question.

“Show me the coin used for the tax,” Jesus says. They pull out a selfie of the emperor. “Whose head is this, and whose title?”

“The emperor’s,” they respond.

Well, then, give it back to him, if it belongs to him. But as you do, remember that God has His selfie stamped on creation, too. So give to God what belongs to God.

What is Jesus suggesting here? I think he’s recalling Genesis 1, when God created humankind in His image, according to His likeness. I think he’s remembering Psalm 24, in which it says that “the earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it.” And for us, as we read this encounter, we are drawn to the person of Jesus himself, whom Paul calls in Colossians 1, “the image of the invisible God,” and later tells the global Church that they are “the Body of Christ.”

So for those of us who follow Jesus, that means we are God’s selfie to the world. We bear the image of God so that others might know what He looks like. Say cheese, then! And as we do, let’s ask ourselves, what does it look like to portray God’s selfie to the world?

Joshua Gorenflo and his wife, Kya, are ministers at Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 on the Kenai Spur Highway. Worship is 11 a.m. on Sundays. Streamed live at kenaifellowship.com.

More in Life

tease
Getting creative with camping

Making healthy, diverse meals while outdoors takes some planning

James Franklin Bush was arrested and jailed for vagrancy and contributing to the delinquency of minors in California in 1960, about a year before the murder in Soldotna of Jack Griffiths. (Public document from ancestry.com)
A violent season — Part 4

James Franklin “Jim” Bush stood accused of the Soldotna murder of Jack Griffiths in October 1961

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Hard to say goodbye

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve been perfectly happy with my 14-year-old, base model pickup truck.

File
Minister’s Message: Faith will lead to God’s abundance

Abundance is in many aspects of our lives, some good and some not.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
Kenai and Soldotna square off once more in ‘King of the River Food Drive’

Food can be donated at the food bank or at either city’s chamber of commerce

These noodles are made with only three ingredients, but they require a bit of time, patience, and a lot of elbow grease. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Filling the time with noodles

These noodles are made with only three ingredients, but they require a bit of time, patience and a lot of elbow grease

[csC1—]Jack and Alice Griffiths, owners of the Circus Bar, pose together in about 1960. (Public photo from familysearch.org)
A violent season — Part 3

The second spirit, said Cunningham, belonged to Jack Griffiths….

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
The Kenai Potter’s Guild’s annual exhibition, “Clay on Display,” is seen at the Kenai Art Center on Tuesday.
Expression in a teapot at July art center show

Kenai Art Center’s annual pottery show takes front gallery, with memories of Japan featured in the back

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Attendees take food from a buffet during the grand opening of Siam Noodles and Food in Kenai on Tuesday.
Soldotna Thai restaurant expands to Kenai

The restaurant is next to Jersey Subs in Kenai where Thai Town used to be located

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes it’s not cool to mention heat

Thanks for the joke fest material rolling into our Unhinged Alaska headquarters folks but chill out.

Ruth Ann and Oscar Pederson share smiles with young Vicky, a foster daughter they were trying to adopt in 1954. This front-page photograph appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on June 17, 1954.
A violent season — Part 2

Triumph, tragedy and mystery