Soul Dysmorphia

September 1, 2019 / Pastor Tim Dean

We live in a “selfie” world, right? This is not always a negative. We take selfies with family when we’re on vacation, or with friends at Packers games or music concerts, or when we are having fun and clowning around. However, in this “selfie” world, the disconnect between our real selves and virtual selves can be challenging. We can spend hours cultivating our image or identity on-line, on social media, and this can mask our real identity, gifts and needs.

Medical professionals have identified a new phenomenon called “body dysmorphic disorder,” BDD, or Snapchat disorder, to use more informal lingo. A person with this condition can’t stop thinking about perceived flaws or defects in their appearance, which causes them great anxiety or shame.

Many people in this selfie age seem to be struggling with Snapchat disorder. With the blurring of what’s real and what’s virtual, we can sculpt our personalities and social postures to appeal to others, trying to achieve a certain kind of status, rather than be humble and realistic about our flaws and human needs. It then becomes easier to see others as inferior to our inflated and airbrushed selves.

Jesus helps us get real

Jesus helps us get real. He has a tendency to drop into people’s lives, cut through the airbrushed veneer, and hold up a mirror to expose the true self. He doesn’t do this from a position of superiority, but from the position of one who is humble and always projects his authentic self. The fully human Jesus helps us to see that we are human.

Jesus uses the comparison of a wedding banquet to share a larger agenda: he’s talking about the kingdom of God. God’s banquet is not to be defined by pushing a false image of ourselves above others. It’s not about climbing the piety ladder to get to heaven. Rather, at God’s table, a person who is real and honest with himself or herself will choose the lowest place, and let the host set the agenda for who sits where. It’s the host who determines our status.

At the wedding banquet, God is the host who gives us a permanent status at the table—not based on a filtered selfie image we project, not based on our striving for status—but based on God’s image stamped into us. God wants us to attend this banquet as our real selves, humble, honest, authentic, ready to serve others.

God invites us to this community of mutual love

Many people suffering from Snapchat dysmorphia focus their lives on impressing their friends to the detriment of their bodies and souls. Jesus reminds us that the most impressive people in God’s kingdom are those who take a humble position, who turn the focus away from self to others, and whose purpose is living in God’s community of mutual love.

At this table, we are invited to see God’s image in the world Christ died to save. Humility is to flip the lens and focus on the image of God, and not be stuck in soul dysmorphia. Humility is how Jesus helps us get real. He reminds us that the only image we need, we already have and cannot be taken away: child of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked with the cross of Christ forever. Amen.