Steven Furtick — The Problem with Pinterest
I think one of the greatest challenges of living in the time that we live in, of course, I've never lived in another time, so this is the only one I know, but, this culture of comparison, is completely out of control. And we not only now live in an age where we live in a culture of imagined comparison, but in a culture of projected comparison, where people have the ability to run their own broadcast network with a reality television show about themselves on your phone all day long. And you get to choose what to tune into.
But every once in a while, you have an experience in life where your comparison is put in context. I was talking to a famous person recently. If I said this person's name, I promise you would know who he was or at least your middle school daughter would. And this guy is so famous, he's like crazy famous. Not like he gets recognized every once in a while famous. Like, he's so famous, he's like miserable famous. He's like can't go to another continent without getting recognized famous. And I was talking to him because he was listening to me preach and he was going on vacation after the church service.
And I said, "Hey, man, where are you going on vacation?" And he told me he was going to Turks and Caicos. And the cool thing was, I had just taken Holly, my wife, to Turks and Caicos like a few months before this. So, I was kind of excited that I had taken my wife to the same place that this famous star was going to for his vacation. I said, "That's cool, man. I just got back from there, bro, with my wife. It was amazing." And he said, "Oh, yeah. Where did you stay?" And I couldn't remember the name of the resort and I was looking to Holly. She'd remember the name of the resort.
And I was proud that I had taken my wife to a resort, Turks and Caicos. To me that was good, you know. It was a nice resort, too. Very nice resort. Got her a suite. Yeah. And, but, I couldn't remember the name of the resort. I said, "I'm sorry, man, I don't remember the name of the resort." I said, "But, where are you staying." And he said, "Oh, I don't remember the name of the island." Oh. OK. You're renting a whole island. I'm proud of my resort and you just take over the island.
Everybody say, "Context." Context is so important. See, I don't think it's bad to compare. I think comparison, on one hand is helpful to help us understand what's possible, to inspire us, to look at somebody who's beyond where you are physically can inspire you to get in shape or to look at somebody who's been faithful to God for 30 years or faithful to their spouse for 25 years and wonder, "How did they do it?" And then look and see if you're practices match your preferred future. It can be helpful to compare.
But, your comparison has to be in context. That's kind of hard these days, isn't? It's nothing new. Paul dealt with this all the time in the scripture. In fact, he's one of our main characters for the "Unqualified" series. He made that classic statement, "When I am weak, then I am strong." Helped us to understand that it's not whether we feel qualified that determines our future, but whether we're willing to believe God's assessment over our own opinion of ourselves.
But Paul had this problem because the church at Corinth, as we talked about in an earlier episode, well, they weren't confident in his credentials anymore, even though he had started the church. They lost their confidence in his credentials. And they were comparing Paul to another group of apostles. And Paul is writing about his qualifications in 2 Corinthians 3:12. I want to read you this whole passage all the way through Verse 18 and make a few comments about it that I think will be relevant to your life.
"Paul says, 'Therefore, since we have such a very hope, we are very bold.'" Isn't that interesting that boldness, in Paul's mind, isn't the opposite of humility? To Paul, boldness is a byproduct of humility. Sometimes we think that if we're bold, that's a sign of arrogance. But, I think that true humility is getting past yourself altogether and tapping into a boldness that comes from knowing you're called and qualified by God. He goes on to say in Verse 13, "'We are not like Moses'"...
And I want to come back to this because it's actually scandalous what he's doing here, he said that Moses would "'put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.'"
Well, there's so much I can say about this passage, but first I want to talk about Pinterest. Have you ever been on Pinterest before? I've been on Pinterest a few times. I don't frequent Pinterest. I don't want you to question my masculinity or think I have too much spare time. But, I have been on Pinterest before. It's an interesting website. For those of you who may not be familiar with Pinterest or maybe you've heard about it, you don't know exactly what it is, I found a definition of Pinterest.
This is straight from Wikipedia so, you know it's trustworthy. The user community of Wikipedia is always responsible. Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests. People create and share collections, which are called boards, of visual bookmarks, called pins, that they use to do things like plan trips and projects, organize events, or save articles and recipes.
That's what Wikipedia says about Pinterest. But after much observation and contemplation and analysis of how Pinterest affects many people who frequent Pinterest, I came up with alternate definition. Let's see if this works.
Pinterest is a visually driven, social media platform strategically designed for non-stop, 24-hour a day, 7 day a week reminders that your kids are not really as well dressed as your neighbors' kids. Your home is decorated like garbage. The pictures you take on your own phone are comparatively artless. You did a terrible job planning your own wedding. And that you live a generally tedious, monotonous, painfully dull existence that is slowly draining the life out of you, unlike everyone else in your life, whose lives are categorically awesome at all times.
That's just another perspective of Pinterest. I don't have a problem with social media. I use social media, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap Chat. It's all good. Even, Facebook, might have value. But, what I do have a problem with is the mindset of projecting something that's not a real part of who you are and the comparisons that come when we're comparing our unfiltered reality to everyone else's cropped photos a life that doesn't even really exist. I think it creates discontentment. I think in many cases it can create discouragement and even despair.
Let me see if I can work the centuries together and bring Paul, who's speaking to the Corinthian church together with, maybe you would call us a Kardashian culture, where we're looking at people of the Corinthians and the Kardashians. Let's see if we can bring everything together really quickly because Paul goes all the way back several centuries before his time and he says that Moses had a practice that was virtuous on one hand, but was not vulnerable enough on the other and it relates to vision, the way that you see.
You know, the way you see is everything. Your perspective is everything. Sometimes you may be asking God to fix a problem in your life, when what you really need God to do is fix your perspective so you can deal with the problem.
Paul is dealing with issues of perspective and he talks about how Moses, the great man of God, Moses, the leader of what we might consider the Old Testament church, the nation of Israel, Moses would go up and meet with God. And his meetings with God were so real and the revelations were so rich, that when Moses would come down from meeting with God, he would have to wear a veil on his face in order to keep the Israelites from being blinded by the glory of God.
It was so incredible what he experienced, he put a veil on. But Paul gives us a little bit of insight, that to his audience would have been, I think, a little bit different way of seeing it. He said, in Verse 13, "That Moses would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away." Isn't that interesting? He says, "On one hand Moses was wearing the veil mercifully so the Israelites wouldn't be blinded by the glory."
But maybe there's another reason that Moses kept that veil on, because it was a glory that faded away. It was an old covenant glory. It wasn't the kind of glory that comes from the spirit of the Lord that is ever-renewing. It was the glory of the law, which wasn't a full complete glory and it couldn't last. And you can't keep the law. And so, instead of Moses letting them see the glory go away, he kept the veil on a little longer.
Let me ask you a question, what veil do you tend to wear? What construct have you developed in your life for the purpose of image management? Can I just leave that term for you to consider, image management? Is this not what we see with Moses that he is meeting with God and seeing God and well, God, who made man in His image, well Moses is a representative of God, and he doesn't want the people to see that although God has glory, he's not always glorious. He doesn't want the Israelites to see him with no makeup on. He doesn't want the Israelites to see him in his pajamas.
And Paul says, "You know, Moses had a form of glory," he said, "but, because of the Spirit of God, we are free not to have to show people a presentation of what we would like them to believe about our lives, but to come as we are and to be who we are and accept that in Christ that's enough." It's so freeing.
And we're comparing all the time. We're comparing ourselves to mighty men of God like Moses. You mean Moses, the murder? I think we've done a disservice to our scriptures by making the characters... Bible characters heroes that no one can relate to. And Moses represents the past.
Have you ever had trouble enjoying your present season because you're comparing your present season to your memory of the past? The human memory is a funny thing, right? Because as many people have said, your memory is two things. It's selective and it's defective. I hate to break it to you, but your memory of the past doesn't always match the reality of what that past was. You know that, right? And this is where people get stuck in their idea of the glory days.
This is where you see somebody who can't get past what high school was like. And they can't get past what they used to be and what they used to do. Paul is dealing with a group of people who are stuck in the glory days of Moses and they haven't moved on to the sufficiency of Christ. And they're stuck in what they perceive to be the glory days.
This happens to me sometimes as a pastor. People will come up to me and say, "Well, I like the church better when it was smaller. I liked it better when it was smaller. When everybody could know everybody." Now, aside from the fact that God didn't create the church to just stay small, but to reach people. Aside from that fact, I wonder, do you really miss how it was in those days or do you miss your memory of how it was in those days?
Because see, if you can keep something in a case, like it's in a museum and you look at it and observe it, "Oh, Moses was so amazing." Paul says that even to this day when the Israelites would hear Moses read, there was a veil because they were married to their memory, rather than being committed to their current season.
So, sometimes there's a problem with our past. We compare our ideal of the past to our real in the present. And so, we're discontent. We remember, "Why can't it be like it used to be?" It wasn't all that back then, either. Can I break it to you? There are no glory days. There were problems then. When you arrived at the next place you want to be, there's going to be problems there.
You have to learn how to have a boldness right here and now to face life head on and look it in the eyes, the challenges of this season and the blessings of the same. Progress is tricky because you're the last one to see it in yourself. You're comparing it to somebody else's version of progress. The one time I said something that people seem to get a lot out of is that we're comparing our behind the scenes with everybody else's highlight reel. Have you ever done that? You compare your actual family vacation to their sunset picture of three seconds of the family vacation and you compare it.
Pinterest is a cool site, but I found one I like better. This site is called Pinterest Fail. I highly encourage you to check this out as a part of your spiritual edification process. Pinterest Fail. This is amazing. This is where people take ideas that they saw on Pinterest and they try them themselves and sometimes it doesn't turn out too well like this one.
First one. This is somebody who saw a Pinterest board and they said, "I thought it was so creative and beautiful, how the melting wax flows gracefully down the canvas and creates a neat melty, colorful effect. Then you put it on your wall and call it art." So, this person tried that and then they said, "This is what happened." You want to see another one?
I really like this stuff, because this is real life. This one said, "I saw a Pinterest board that taught me how to create a mini version of the mini caramel apples classic fall treat. I wanted to make these for finger foods at my 27 birthday party. I thought they would pair nicely with the cheese plate. But the only thing that went right was the cheese. This plate was finished." It showed the actual. Hmm. Delicious, right? But it's all fun and games until you get the kids involved.
This one is my favorite. The user says... you can see where this is going, can't you? This isn't going to be good. The user says, "I had my first child this past May and became a part-time stay-at-home-mom. I was excited to do fun and cooking, crafty, homemade projects with my wee-one. I decided to create our own Christmas photoshoot from an idea I saw on Pinterest. After about an hour of prep, a frustrated husband, and a crying baby, I realized I had totally nailed this one. This is what happened."
Wow. I'll let you just take that in. Ideal. Real. Ideal. And the real. Ideal spirituality and real spirituality. And Paul says, "You have an ideal that's really based on a veil." There's a problem with wearing a veil. And the problem is, it may keep others from seeing your flaws, but it also keeps you from seeing your future. It may keep others from seeing you as you really are, and I know that's tempting sometimes, because I want to say all the right words at church.
I want to be somebody that people admire in prayer group. I want to be a mom that other moms look up to. I want to be a supermom. I know, I know you do. I know you do. But the problem with walking around like this, is that not only does it keep people from seeing who you really are, but it keeps you from seeing others as they really are. And it's kind of hard for you to connect with people in life if you're walking around like this.
What veil are you wearing? Paul said, "In Christ, the veil is taken away." So, I want you to try this week living life beyond the veil. Beyond the veil. That whether or not you spend time on Pinterest or another social media site, this is not the point. The point is, could you spend less time this week comparing, comparing, "Look how her husband treats her." "Well, it must be nice to be married at age 24. I'm single." "Oh, if I made that amount of money." You don't know their amount of taxes or stress. You're comparing out of context.
Maybe I can't rent an island on Turks and Caicos, but I can put a hat on when I get there and nobody messes with me. You understand, that when you compare out of context, you miss the benefits and blessings of being yourself and the advantages that are unique to you.
And so Paul said, "We all with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord's glory." Isn't that a great theological word? Contemplate. It's not a word we use much in everyday life, probably, unless you are a Franciscan Monk. I don't know. Maybe you are a Franciscan Monk, but how about if you're a stay-at-home mom or if you're a business owner, guy working a job? What would it look like this week for you to live life beyond the veil?
And to not interact with people on the basis of what they're going to think about you after the interaction is over. But something maybe you can invest in them. What if, instead of trying to project an image of perfection that you have to consistently manage, what if you took Paul's advice and allowed God to change you from the glory to glory?
I love that phrase. He said, "We contemplate the Lord's glory. We think about, we think about who God is and we are changed from glory to glory." And here's our biggest problem. It's the way we're trying to change. We're trying to change from shame to glory. I'm ashamed of who I am right now and if I could. But, in Paul's theology and when you have the Spirit of God inside of you this rings true to you, you're already complete in Christ, you already are, you already have it, you already accept it.
So, I'm not going from shame to glory. Christ took my shame. That's dealt with. Now, I'm going from glory to glory to glory to glory to glory. So, I'm taking pride in my progress. I'm not paralyzed by how far I have to go, I'm celebrating how far I've come. And my celebration of how far I've come is energizing me for the next step in my journey. And I don't have to live like this, blind to the reality of God's work in me, hoping people don't find out how screwed up I am. Because I realize you're screwed up, too.
So, take the veil off and discover a boldness in Christ that believes that I belong to Him and because of my relationship with Him, and my revelation of Him, I'm not focused on this, I'm focused on what God is doing inside of me.
God, I pray that You would give us that kind of focus to know that anytime we compare it creates something unhealthy. Anytime we compare out of context, it becomes downright destructive. On one hand, we become prideful because we think we're better. On the other hand, we become discouraged because we only see our flaws and we see other people's best features. But we come today in Jesus' name to ask You to help us remove the veil. We want to see You as You are. We want to see the life that You've planned for us as it is. We want to see ourselves as we can be. And we thank you by Your Spirit You are changing us from glory to glory. Amen.