Instagram is a fast-growing social media app that is very popular. Word is that Facebook, with its 2 billion users, is now for “old people” (like…me, I guess?) while Instagram is more popular with the younger crowd (800 million users at last count). I use both. We have a Facebook page for our ministry, and I have a personal one that I mostly use for sharing insightful videos or blogs (like the one you’re reading!), keeping up with all my “old” friends, and finding out what’s going on in the world (because I never watch the news or listen to the radio).
But when I post anything personal about our life that includes a photo, I almost always post it first in Instagram and share it to Facebook. Instagram is appealing because it’s photo-centric, the posts are usually short, and you get to use all those cool hashtags which are so fun to think up! What’s most appealing is that you can snap a picture of a moment that’s so memorable you want to keep it, and effortlessly share it with others so they can see how good (or fun, or scary, or even sad) your life is at that moment. I think at the core, we love Instagram (and Facebook) because it validates us…for one brief second the world takes notice of us. We feel like our lives matter.
And don’t get me wrong…this post is not about bashing social media. There are some really good things that come from using it in a positive way. Frankly, I love stalking your baby and grandbaby pictures. They make me smile and remind me that there is still goodness and innocence in our world.
One cool feature on Instagram is all those fancy filters you can impose over your photos. Even if you’re a terrible photographer, you can look great if you just pick the right filter! You can add a rosy glow, highlight shadows, go retro with the seventies look, lighten up dark photos; the list of options is endless. Filters allow you to see things in a different light. What is hidden becomes more prominent, or things you don’t want to see can become less distracting.
Wouldn’t it be great if could lay some of those cool filters over our spiritual life to give clarity and beauty to the path God has us on right now? What if we could view our challenges, our victories, our trials, and our daily walk in a way that makes them beautiful? Even the hard things, the ugly bumps and bruises, would become beautiful and purposeful, and worthy of sharing with the world.
Well, actually, there are four spiritual filters that I’d like to share with you. Each one gives us a God-centered perspective for viewing the moments of our life.
#1 = The Filter of Sovereignty (#GodIsInControl)
Isaiah 46:9-11 – Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure; … truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass, I have planned it, surely I will do it.”
God is sovereign, which means He rules. He is the highest authority, the highest power that exists. If He wills it, it will be done. Sovereign also means that He has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens. This doesn’t mean we are robots or puppets on God’s stage; God gave us free will. But it does mean that I can’t make a mess of my life that is beyond God’s ability to straighten out. It means that whatever happens to me, God knew it before it happened, and has a purpose for it.
#2 = The Filter of Sanctification (#GodIsAtWorkInMe)
Philippians 2:13 – For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Ephesians 4:13,15 – …Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. … but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
God gives us both the desire and the ability to live for Him. And what is His good pleasure? It is that Christlikeness is formed in us. He desires to transform us, to change us. We are a work in progress. Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are His workmanship, His masterpiece. Everything that happens in our life is meant to strip off the old sinful flesh and reveal the regenerated, renewed spirit of Christ that has come to indwell us. This is called sanctification – a making holy, a setting apart, and it is the work of God in us, and on us.
#3 = The Filter of the Gospel (#GodLovesTheWorld)
Acts 20:24 – But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 – For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.
Placing the filter of the gospel over our lives changes everything. The gospel is life. It has rescued us from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of Jesus. Our eternity is secure, and we have hope and peace and joy in this life. And we have a purpose – to tell everyone we know how good God is and how much He loves them, and that they, too, can have salvation. God placed Himself in us, so that we can shine the light of the gospel brightly in every situation.
#4 = The Filter of Glory (#God’sGloryMyLifePurpose)
1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15 – For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Revelation 4:11 – Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.
We were created for one purpose, and one purpose only: to bring glory to God. The word “glory” is from doxa, a Greek word meaning opinion, judgment, or view, literally to seem; it refers to the splendor, brilliance and majesty of God, His glorious condition or exalted state. Our lives are meant to call attention to God so that He is revealed for who He really is. We glorify God when we influence the opinion or view that someone else has of God, as they see His true character. Of course, we must know His character in order to reveal it.
What’s going on in your life today? If you took a picture of the moments of your day, which spiritual filter do you need to see it through in order to have an accurate, God-centered view? What hashtag would you write to describe what God is doing?
Do you see His sovereign hand? Maybe this filter is black and white, obscuring the colors. You don’t quite see what God is doing, but you trust Him anyway.
Do you recognize that God is sanctifying you, forming you in Christ’s image? He’s eliminating the “red-eye” of the old flesh, and softening those sharp edges.
Do you have a platform to share the gospel? Perhaps God is using your story to tell His. He’s adjusting the focus so that what He has accomplished in your life can be clearly shared with others.
Do you see an opportunity to give God glory? The brightness is turned up, and the spotlight is on Him, not you.
Which filter do you need to view your life through?
Here’s a challenge. Post something to Instagram today that illustrates one of these filters and tag me (@sheilaalewine) so that I can celebrate what God is doing in you.