Do you remember Saturday mornings as a kid? I loved waking up early before anyone else, pouring a giant bowl of sugar cereal and parking myself in front of the TV for a solid two hours of cartoons. Not to worry though, after those two hours were done, we would spend the rest of our day outside burning off all that sugar and finding ways to amuse ourselves.

Times have changed. Now we wake up and reach for the glowing rectangle that is never more than an arms length away. Saturday mornings are for scrolling. After ten minutes on social media this morning, I am happy to report that I know no less than five families who are currently vacationing in Hawaii. I wonder what money tree these folks planted to be able to take ten people to Hawaii, but I digress. Mostly, I wish I was in Hawaii too. Enter the inspirational pictures to make me feel better. Feast your eyes on these beauties:

Meh. I don’t feel better. Everything about me is actually not wonderful. If I was living for myself I for sure would be in Hawaii right now. Also, if I were ‘enough’ my house would look a lot bette than it does at this moment. Fix it, Jesus.

These ‘influencers’ are making my head spin. That’s what we all are now, didn’t you know? Our whole purpose in life is to ‘influence’ people we don’t even know. Not for the betterment of them mind you, but for our self-gratification. When Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” He wasn’t just making a suggestion. In order to live, we must die to everything that is not of Him. What does that mean though? Do we not get to have any fun in the meantime? Do we have any say in this?

Jesus is not interested in obliterating the personalities of those who follow him. He does not aim to fill the kingdom of heaven with clones. He aims, rather, to renew our new self “after the image of its creator” — a creator who is not a bare unity, but a glorious unity of Father, Son, and Spirit. When we lose ourselves, we do not simply get a new self, increasingly radiant with the glory of our Maker. We begin thinking about ourselves less and less. We begin to discover that we become most us when we forget about ourselves and become consumed with him. We will discover that we are happiest when we care least about how unique we are, or what sort of personality we have. We would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, gazing upon His face, than hold a mirror to our own in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

Scott Hubbard

I think this hits at the heart of our struggle: our obsession to be seen and known by all the wrong things. How can we gloss over the fact that the Creator of all sees and knows us far better than anyone ever will? That’s a big deal. Even family members who love each other dearly can’t always fulfill this promise. Do you know what this means? It means that we don’t have to rely on human systems to fulfill what God promises to fulfill. When others let us down, it doesn’t crush us. When we let ourselves down and realize we aren’t ‘enough’, we don’t feel condemned to keep up the charade.

The ‘influencers’ are just as messed up as the rest of us, they just have fancier smoke and mirrors, which, as we have seen, can fail pretty easily.

This headline is sad to me. A 19 year old girl based her whole existence on a ‘brand’ that was eviscerated overnight. Nineteen years old. What were you doing at 19? Most of us were just beginning to figure out who the heck we were. I was learning through both success and failure. How thankful I am that I didn’t have it all figured out. She’s a product of parents that put her at the center of her own little universe and it’s all a huge sham. Friends, none of us should base our lives on such things. You are not a brand any more than you are your degree or most recent award. Romans 1:21 says that the further we move away from God, the more futile we become in our thinking. This is futility at it’s finest.

Before we crow too loudly over people like this, let’s remember we are all in the same boat here. Spend a day with the fam at the local amusement park, take a group of kids to the mall, attend a sporting event… watch how quickly things can devolve. It’s every man for himself because our default buttons are set firmly to ‘me’ and ‘now’. We need Jesus. Not the Sunday-only kind of Jesus that puts a smile on our face for an hour, but the Jesus that comes and washes away all of us until what’s left is so infused with Him, we can’t tell where we end and He begins.

It is no good trying to be ‘myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop.

CS Lewis

4 thoughts on “Branded

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  1. Hawaii…nice. I’ve never been.
    But it sure does sound nice right about now—warm and all tropical.
    Money trees…yes, I’d like one of those too.
    Then I could jet off to Hawaii with those folks you speak of rather than sitting here in Georgia—at least the sun is shining.

    It seems our entire world is branded to some degree or other–and the thing is no one gets it.., and if they did, chances are they wouldn’t care.
    We are living in the world of insta this and insta that.
    pretty glam pics of all things wonderful.
    Or so seem the images.

    Just under that thin veneer is a whole lot of angst, fear, mistrust and a deep unhappiness of unfulfillment and peace.

    I miss those mornings of Lucky Charms and the Jetsons while spending the remainder of the day canvassing the creek and woods.

    At 19 I was a freshman at the University of Georgia.
    It worked my butt off to be able to get in.
    My SAT scores were not stellar.
    We didn’t have SAT prep courses in high school back then.

    I didn’t make the first cut so I made an appointment with the Dean of Admissions and asked what it would take for me to be reconsidered.
    “Get your scores up 50 more points” I was told.
    I worked and studied…at that time, I had already met my math requirements for high school so by the time I took the SATs, it had been a year since I’d had had any math.
    I went back to a one of my previous teachers and asked if she’d help me brush up on the basics since math had never been my strong suit.
    I also studied words and their usage.

    I took the test again and raised my score 1​00 points.
    And that was just to get into our state school—no fancy school or Ivy league institution.

    Yep, we’ve fallen a long way…
    Here’s to finding our way…

    In Christ, there is no East or West, in Him no North or South
    but on great fellowship of love
    throughout the whole wide earth.

  2. Great post. The cute phrases in pretty fonts are just empty compared to faith in God, like sand compared to a solid rock. I really love those last couple sentences– Amen!

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