Staging Life

I have loved photography since I was a teenager. I’ve enjoyed taking photos of nature, quirky items, events, friends and ministry.

There was a time when taking a group photo mean everyone would line up by height or standing next to their friends. It wasn’t unusual for someone to have their eyes closed or be looking the other way. And there were plenty of people who didn’t want their photo taken, so they would hide or cover their face.

When the roll was finished, a stop at Walgreens was necessary for one-hour processing. Flipping through the stack of photos, you hoped that you “got the shot” you wanted.

Fast forward just a few years, and our phones have become cameras. Everyone is a photographer. 

Looking for Likes

Since our smartphones are always at our disposal, anyone can snap a photo any moment, anywhere with ease and clarity. Instead of running from the camera, we pose, stage and take unlimited photos. We instantly review, edit, crop and filter.

Seems perfect, right? Mix instant photos with the pervasiveness of social media, and the staging of life began. Photos previously shared only with family and friends are now made public for the world to see. And once we knew the world was looking, we took notice and adjusted.

In a recent TV interview, teens acknowledged they often take more than 50 photos to get the right picture to share; one teen admitted to taking up to 200. If their photos don’t get a significant number of “likes” in a reasonable time, they can become depressed. The reporter asked if social media is a true representation of people’s lives, and the student responded that it isn’t. Most young people have two accounts, a fake account and the one they create for show, featuring their staged lives.

Sharing Our Lives

What does the staging of life mean for Christ-followers? What should we show the world on our social media accounts?

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul shares words that still ring clear today.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Christ-followers today need to share their lives with those God has placed around them, and this includes using social media. But rather than presenting a staged life, cropped and filtered, we should be honest and real. We reflect the grace we have experienced through Christ when we share the joys and the struggles this side of heaven.

As we share, we face some challenges. We must communicate in a way that those who are not yet Christ-followers can understand. Sharing without pride or misrepresentation poses an ever greater task.

It is only by yielding daily to the guidance of Holy Spirit that we share our lives and the Gospel. As we share our real, unfiltered lives, may our goal be like Paul, “that by all means I might save some.”

Allyson Clark serves as Next Generation Co-Director of Youth Ministries at the Baptist Convention of New England.