Pastor John Piper was recently asked whether the selfie phenomenon — the rabid onslaught of people obsessed with taking and posting pictures of themselves — is a sign of the biblical end times.
A man named Ed wrote in to ask whether 2 Timothy 3:1–2, an end times verse that proclaims, in part, that “people will be lovers of self,” could mean that video blogs, selfies and other forms of social media that encourage people to focus on “self” are signs that the Bible’s warnings about “self-love” are starting to come to fruition.
Piper responded with a slew of “yeses” and “nos.”
“First, yes. Vlogs, selfies, and self-focused social media are often (not always) an expression of the self-exaltation, self-preoccupation, and self-fascination of these last days,” he said. “But no, these new technologies are not the emerging of such final experiences of sin. They’ve always been there. The new technologies are giving new ways to express old sins.”
He continued, “That’s my first yes and no: Yes, these are the manifestations of the end-times self-love, and no, they’re not just now emerging.”
Piper also went on to proclaim that “these are the last days” and that people should set their sights on Jesus’ return, but he offered a clarification, noting that these “are not yet the very last days” and that they are akin to the last days that started 2,000 years ago.
To further clarify, Piper noted that Jesus’ arrival 2,000 years ago was “the beginning of the last days,” noting that Paul, as evidenced in the Bible, was already living with an end times mindset — one Christians continue to operate under.
Then, the preacher went on to further address the social media paradigm.
“We should be always alert and ready to give an account to the Lord Jesus when he comes. Ed asked me what I would say to people on vlogs. That’s what I want to say,” he said. “The judge is standing at the door. Be ready. Be alert. You’re going to be called to account. That’s the first thing I’d say.”
Piper said that the “self” was given to each person as an “instrument of worship” and not of “self-worth.”
“The desires of the human self are meant to lead us to God, in whose presence is fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore,” he said. That’s what I’d say to the self-absorbed user of social media. The self was never meant to satisfy us. The self was never meant to find satisfaction in the perception or promotion of self. The self was made for God.”
Read a transcript of Piper’s response or listen to it here.