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A cool selfie can cost you your life

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Yaroslav Segeda takes a selfie of himself and friends on top of a crane in Kiev Extreme urban climbers take 'selfies' on top of tall buildings, Kiev, Ukraine, April 2015 (Credit: Rex Features via AP Images)

Russian police have ramped up efforts to curb the ways in which the Russian people can take selfies. While that may sound right in line with Russia’s other efforts at censorship, the police department’s motives in this case are far more benevolent than one might suspect. They have launched a campaign aimed at encouraging people to be more aware of their surroundings and exercise better judgment when taking self-portraits. There have been around 100 injuries and over a dozen deaths this year alone by people who thought it worth the risk to take a picture that would garner attention and praise on social media.

One such incident occurred this past May when a 21-year old woman in Moscow accidentally shot herself in the head while taking a selfie and holding a pistol. She somehow survived but sustained serious injuries. In January, two men in the Urals were less fortunate while taking a selfie and holding a live grenade. The cell phone used to take the picture was all that survived.

As the interior ministry warns in a brochure being handed out to students and the general public, “A cool selfie can cost you your life.” Consequently, they have created a number of pictures that resemble road signs warning about potentially dangerous situations, many of which are based on actual incidents. While many, if not most, seem common sense, warnings against taking selfies on railroad tracks, with wild animals, and near exposed wires will hopefully help to stem the tide of selfie-related injuries.

Ultimately though, there is little the government can do beyond raise awareness. People are still going to have to decide for themselves whether or not their lives are worth the chance at momentary social media fame. God gave us freedom and what we do with that freedom is on us. Whether we use it for our glory or his has consequences that extend beyond the moment.

While most of us will never take a life-endangering picture of ourselves, we all make decisions that demonstrate a lack of respect and gratitude for the freedom God has granted. Time and time again, scripture demonstrates that when our choices honor God we position ourselves to receive the blessings he longs to give. From Adam and Eve to Christ’s message to John in Revelation, the Bible speaks with a unified voice on the necessity of using our God-given free will for God-glorifying purposes if we want to experience the kind of full life for which we were created.

So what’s keeping you from that sort of life today? In what ways is your freedom being used for your glory rather than God’s? How you answer those questions and, more importantly, what you then do with those answers is crucial to experiencing the kind of life-giving and joy-inspiring life that can only be found in a close relationship with Christ. Will you choose that kind of life today?

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