Here I am, with one of Snapchat's most popular of filters. My oily skin has been digitally powdered down, my sleep deprived and perpetually red eyes are lit up and enlarged to look perky and awake, my dull, tired skin that I don't get the chance to wash every night is brightened and the premature wrinkles are softened, and my cheeks have been slimmed down to hide the fact that I partake in midnight snacking on the regular. This Snapchat filter masks the evidence of my life. But is that the only filter I'm using?
The other filter I'm talking about is spiritual, or a life filter. A lot of us have a filter like Snapchat's but for our life. We use it to mask the unattractive bits and enhance the good stuff. Filters, whether they're digital or spiritual, make us look better...or do they?
I'm going to say that they don't. Filters, especially of the figurative, "life filter" variety are not good for ourselves or for anyone else who knows us.
Filters strip us of our God-given uniqueness. In junior high, most of us want to fit in so we try so hard not to stand out. By the time we become adults, we have zero idea of our gifts, talents, and strengths. When we hide behind filters, we're so busy becoming fading echoes of each other, we forget that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14)
by the Author of Life, the Artist who created all artists.
Spiritual filters are a fertile breeding ground for pride. I used to be in church leadership and let me tell you, there is a huge target on your back in leadership. I was constantly aware I was under a microscope and in turn, I put on a filter. I told myself, don't let anyone know my weaknesses, instead, feign humility by admitting I'm not perfect without God but make sure to hide any ounce of personal struggle. As my pride grew, my ability to hear God's voice and understand His calling in my life lessened. I was so busy trying not to provide anyone with ammunition on me, I ended up separating myself from the flock and became weak. Healing finally began once I confessed my Achille's heels to some saints. The Bible tells us to "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). God heard their prayers for me once I laid down my spiritual filter. Was it worth risking my reputation or receipt of judgement from man? Absolutely. We should fear God's judgement, not mankind's. Adam and Eve used fig leaf filters and those definitely didn't hide their sin from the Lord. We may be able to fool each other with filters, but we can't ever hide anything from God.
In addition to pride, spiritual filters also breed apostasy. It could be ours, or someone else's. One time at a Bible study, my group leader was going over a verse and everyone (including myself) stoically nodded their head in understanding. But I was lost and as we went deeper into the verse, I became more confused and felt so dumb and ungodly that I was the only one without understanding. Before I could stop myself, I confessed that I had no idea what's going on and asked if we could backtrack into the story. As soon as I did so, there was a sigh of relief from half the people there who were also confused. If everyone kept their spiritual filter on, our group would probably have carried on in the study despite every other person being lost. Filters place us at risk of not growing spiritually.
Paul boasts of Jesus in Galatians 6 and nothing else. Paul had no filter to hide behind because the only thing worth bragging on is the cross. Our pride, reputation, embarrassment, achievement, none of these things are worth covering up nor lifting up. What's awesome is what Jesus has done. Let's brag on that, let's give that our attention.
It's one am, the house is finally quiet, my face is still dirty, and I'm eating Nutella off a butter knife. I'll probably check Snapchat after this to play with today's new filters but before I do that, let's ask the Lord to reveal any spiritual filters we may be hiding behind and to instead equip us with the armor of God.