An Instagrammed Life

September 13, 2015

David Sorn

Is what you’re chasing after even reality? Or just a neatly filtered version of it?

An Instagrammed Life

September 13, 2015

David Sorn

Is what you’re chasing after even reality? Or just a neatly filtered version of it?


Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.

Whether you like it or not, we live in a world of social media.

73% of all American internet users now have some sort of social media profile (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)

The younger you are, the higher that percentage is.   

And so once a week, or once a day…or once an hour for some of you…we get to look deep into the lives of our “friends” and see what they’re having for lunch.

And now with social media platforms like Instagram…where you can apply a trendy filter to your pictures, your neighbor’s lunch looks better than ever.

And we’ve gotten so used to the insanity of looking at people’s food on the internet…some of us maybe even LIKE it.

(Show InstagramMeme1)

This morning, I want to talk about how we got there as a society…and what it’s doing to us…

But before we do that…let me tell you about our new series we’re starting today…called “The Gilded Age.”

When I was in college, I was a history minor, and I took a class about a part of American History that most people can’t even name one President from (go ahead…give it a try) 1866 – 1913. 

And in the middle of that time period (1870-1900) was a time of American History called “The Gilded Age”

It was a time in America’s history when Industrialization was in full swing and most Americans transitioned from working for themselves to working for an employer…and many more from rural to urban.

It was a time when it looked like there was a lot of wealth…but underneath the wealth were significant problems:

Corruption, poor working conditions, and even though some were getting incredibly rich, most were still incredibly poor.

It’s called the Gilded Age because gilding is a process whereby you apply a thin layer of gold over a solid surface like wood.

So you might have an old wooden dresser…but no problem! 

Just apply a thin layer of gold, and it looks amazing…even though it’s not much to look at underneath. 

And I want to submit to you this morning, and throughout this series…that we are in a new and different kind of “Gilded Age” in America.

Modernization and technology have now allowed us as individuals to present a nice, instagrammed, filtered, gold layer over the reality of our lives.    


Let me explain what this “new layer of gold” looks like.

The New York Times had a great article on how Social Media makes us feel nowadays. 

Let me read you their opening paragraph.

“Erin Wurzel, 26, thought she had plenty to feel thankful about this Thanksgiving weekend: She is engaged to a great guy (and was spending Thanksgiving with his family), working on her first novel, and taking French with an eye to moving to Paris someday…Then she checked her Instagram feed.”

But instead of feeling satisfied, what many are beginning to call “Social Media Envy” kicked in.

Because on the internet…everyone’s life is better than yours.

If you have 304 friends on Facebook, that’s just 304 people who are currently having a better time, doing more amazing things, and eating better food than you…(while you are feeling lonely and just killing time…while you kill a bag of twizzlers on the couch)

But there’s a part of this that isn’t REAL, right?

It’s not real life, is it?

No, it’s not!

It’s fake…in a lot of ways.

For example, think of the filters you can apply on Instagram:

All of a sudden it looks like you’re a professional photographer…who apparently lives in some paradise named…COON RAPIDS. 

But it’s not a real, right?

It’s like a gilding (that thin layer of gold)

The fruit looks better on Instagram.

The lake or the ocean has never looked bluer.   

Even babies look like they actually didn’t just spit up all over you.

And most of the time…the photo you’re looking at was staged with such painstaking care that it would put most Hollywood directors to shame.   

I remember when I went on summer vacation as a kid, my parents would always give me one disposable camera with 24 pictures.

Photography used to be do or die.

One year, when we went on vacation to Washington D.C., and I remember getting my film back…and it was 24 photos…of  my thumb. 

But now…people are “setting-up” their pictures. 

They don’t just take a picture of what they’re eating…they set it up!

Show InstagramMeme2

This is crazy to me.

Many people…especially teenagers, people in their 20’s…and even 30’s…are taking 5 to 10 minutes…to set up their lunch before they take the photo.

It doesn’t matter that their food is cold…the photo is perfect!

And they don’t have to worry about getting their thumb, or any other inconvenient part of reality, in the picture.

You’re looking at someone’s perfect picture of their 3 kids on Facebook …and you’re thinking, “My kids don’t even smile…let alone at the same time”

And here their kids all are…looking perfect.

But what you don’t know, is that was photo 47 out of 125 on the new fast shutter mode with their iphone app.

Is this even real life?

It’s the new Gilded Age.

And you scroll through your feed, and what do you see?

You see the best of the best, right?

Oh…so and so just took their kids to the State Fair…and then went again without their kids… “OH…good for you!”

Oh, so and so just had a juicy lucy at the Nook! (While you’re currently eating pizza rolls for dinner…again)

Oh…so and so…is on a date at the Twins Game…and don’t they look fabulous…

You don’t see the fights, the arguments…you don’t even see normalcy. 

Like, I just want to create a Facebook or Instagram account called, “Normal Guy”

And then 4 times a day just take non-filtered photos of the most mundane aspects of my life!

(NormalGuy1) “Look!  Here I am cleaning out the toilet!  Potty training rules!”

(NormalGuy2) “Look!  I’m adding columns in Microsoft Excel!  Isn’t this neat?!

(NormalGuy3) “Look!  Here I am sitting on the couch and NOT cleaning my house!”

“Oh, you ate at some fancy restaurant that you’re pretending I should already know about…   (NormalGuy4) Well, here I am finishing off an entire quart of ice cream in one sitting.”  


And before I take this further…let me tell you what I’m not saying.

I’m not saying, you should go all Amish and quit social media altogether.

Share your puppy photos and political rants all you want.

My aim is not to rail on social media, but I want to show you what it can do to so many of us…  

So what does it do??

And even if you’re one of the few people that isn’t on any sort of social media…you still hear it from people in person. 

You hear it when people just talk about their days…they tell you the best of their best.

Social Media has just taken that same phenomenon to the next level.  

What does all of this do to us?

It creates a desire in you to always want MORE out of your life.

You scroll through your feed, and you can’t stop thinking about your unexciting your life is…how lame your marriage is compared to theirs… how boring your house is, how old your car is, and how ugly your clothes are.

But the Bible says…this is just an insatiable craving…a craving you’ll never satisfy.

Look at how wise these words are for our culture from one of Jesus’ closest disciples, John.

(1 John 2:15-16) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 

There’s a lot in here!

It says when you love the world and you chase after all of these things the world says it offers, you must not have the love of the Father in you.

It’s saying, “No one would want to eat a hamburger from White Castle if they knew what Filet Mignon tasted like…and could have that instead for the same price”

When you’ve tasted how God satisfies the soul…you won’t go back to the cravings in the world.

They cravings of the world are merely like a salty food that leaves you just wanting more

Look at verse 16 again.

(1 John 2:16) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (leave up for 20 seconds or so)

 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 

The world only offers you cravings.  Not satisfaction.

We crave pleasure. 

We crave things/possessions.  

We crave pride and affirmation of our achievements

We crave likes on our Facebook page and little red hearts on our Instagram.

You’re not going to hit 100 likes someday and go, “Ahh…Nirvana”

It’s just an unending craving…a spiral that never stops.

And in my 33 years, I’ve met some people who’ve sought more pleasure than you could ever imagine…slept with more people…acquired more money…achieved more we could could dream of…and they’re miserable.

The craving spiral didn’t lead anywhere...except to more cravings.  

And yet, in some of my travels, I’ve met people who live in 8 x 8 shacks…in some of the poorest countries of the world…who can’t stop smiling.  Why? 

Because they’ve found truth.  Satisfaction.  Meaning.  Purpose. 

Not perfection.  Not the avoidance of pain or bad days.

But purpose.  Love.  Forgiveness.

They’ve found something that’s going to outlast this life…and the cravings that come w/ it.

And that’s a relationship with Jesus Christ.

And that’s a really different path than continuing down the path of worldly cravings.

Because the path of worldly cravings is simply going to lead to you scrolling through Facebook…and envying everyone else’s gold layer of gilding.  

So you’ll fruitlessly try and make your life more satisfying.

Maybe you pick up wakeboarding…or Pinterest convinces you to start knitting or baking…

Or you start trying to drink fancy fufu drinks like everyone else…that you just end up spitting out (after you took the picture of course!)

But will it work? 

Will the cravings stop? 

Will satisfaction come?

It’s like everyone’s on the moving rat race of trying to pretend they’re happy like everyone else…who’s also pretending they’re happy.

There was an article in one of the big papers last year about the famous designer, L’Wren Scott…

Let me quote the article:  “To look at her carefully curated Instagram feed, L'Wren Scott was a 1-percenter, a gold-plated member of the international elite: There she was on vacation in India with boyfriend Mick Jagger; at his retreat on the island of Mustique; about to board a chartered helicopter; lounging poolside in gold jewelry and designer sunglasses; stretched out on a private plane, using her $5,000 Louis Vuitton handbag as a footrest.”

And yet…in March of 2014…she was so depressed with the state of her life…she committed suicide.

And one of the most telling parts of the article was from an interview they did with a stylist who followed her on Instagram. 

The stylist said, “Ironically, last week I said to three different people, ‘I wish I had her life!’”

But we’re not going to find life…imitating someone else’s fake life…because their fake life is just a gilding that’s hiding the real thing. 

And when you start trying to imitate them…you’ll realize it’s not enough…it doesn’t satisfy. 

And yet we still ignore every article, every study that tell us that the rich & famous are just as miserable as we are…if not more so. 

And it’s not just the rich & famous that are a testament to this kind of logic.

Your whole life is a testament that you’re meant for more than the stereotypical milestones & cultural offerings this world is supposedly going to satisfy you with

Think about this:  You spend your WHOLE LIFE wanting something else

When you’re a kid…all you can think about is…”I just can’t wait until I’m bigger!”

When you’re a teenager…you’re thinking… “I can’t wait until I’m a senior!  Or in college!  Then…then…I’ll be happy!”

When you’re a young adult…and single…you’re thinking, “When I get married…then…my problems will go away!”  

You get married…and if you JUST had a KID!

You have a kid…turns out babies are a lot of work…but when they’ll older…then family life will be worth it!

Your kids start getting older…and you start dreaming about how happy you’ll be when you become empty nesters!

 And then…it’s like as life begins to fade into the second half…we have this realization that life hasn’t been as satisfying as it was supposed to be…and rather than turn to God…people just turn backwards…wishing we had back what we once we’re so ready to move on from.

We think…if our adult children (who we were so ready to get rid of!) just visited or came home more…then we’d be happy.

If we just could have GRANDbabies…then we’d be happy

Now that we’re in the nursing home…if we could just have our house back…then we’d be happy.

Maybe…maybe…you’re not meant for this world.

As our passage today says, When God created you…He didn’t design you to find life in the milestones and stereotypical offerings of this world…he DESIGNED you to find life by building a relationship with HIM.   


But how do you do that?

You let go of pretending you’re someone you’re not…and you bring your real self to Jesus.

It can be tiring trying to keep it all up.

Trying to constantly show the world how awesome you are.

Look how happy you and your girlfriend are!  (fake smile)

Look how happy your baby is right now!  Gosh I love motherhood!  #LoveBeingAMom!

Maybe you’re a guy…and you don’t DO Instagram or Social Media…but it’s still the same problem.

You’re trying to show all your buddies that you’re advancing in your job…you’ve got a nice lawn…your kids listen to you in public…you’re making money.

And we do all this stuff to supposedly find happiness…but when it doesn’t work…we decide that we at least have to keep up the appearance that we’re happy…

And what happens is we just end up “splitting ourselves”

You have your real self…and your “profile” you show to the world.

Bring your real self to Jesus.

And here’s why.

The Bible tells us that God sees everything we do…not only that, but knows everything we think.

The world might see a nicer, more filtered version of you…but God sees the real deal.

He sees the anger, the rage, the anxiety, the depression, the jealousy, the fear…

And do you know what the Bible says He thinks of you?

Even though he’s the ONLY person who knows everything about you.

Even though the people of this world might never speak to you again if they saw the REAL you. 

The Bible says…God…loves you.

He never stops thinking about you.

It says…He wants to rescue you…to know you…to have a relationship with you.

And how can you know that he loves you?

(Romans 5:8) – NIV

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It says…his son, Jesus, died for us.

While we were still sinners!

In other words…he saw everything you would ever do in your life (your real life…not a fake/filtered life)…he saw it all, and said, “I just love them.  I want to sacrifice myself for them.”

But why did he die for us?

Because despite what we try and hide from the world…we’re not perfect. 

We sin.  All of us.

We lust…we cheat…we hurt people…we ignore God…the list goes on…for miles…

And there’s nothing we can do on our own to write those wrongs

Because in the end, we all stand guilty in front of God.

Look at the next verse in our passage


17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

The world is fading away…our lives…and all the “THINGS” we think our so important…are just fading away.

And when we meet God face to face…it won’t matter how many likes you received on facebook or how beautiful your life seems on Instagram.

Because God sees through our filters…and in reality…none of us are good enough.

(Romans 3:23) – NIV

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We all have sin…and because God is obviously a just God…that sin must be dealt with…punished…paid for.  

But do you remember when I talked about Jesus loving the real you??

He does.  He really does.

And so, 2,000 years ago…God sent his son Jesus to earth…to die on a cross.

It’s right in the Bible’s most famous verse.

(John 3:16) – NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

And so, when you believe in Jesus…you believe that He died on the cross to take your place (your punishment)..

And you tell Him that you want to believe in Him and follow Him.

That you want to change your life.

And stop chasing endless worldly cravings.

If you tell him today…that you believe He came and died for you…and you want to give your life to Him now…then you will (just as we just read in John) not perish in hell …but have eternal life in heaven with God

And you’ll start to experience purpose RIGHT now.

Because as John said in our passage today, you will no longer be chasing after the cravings of a world that is just fading away anyway…

But you’ll be living for the purposes of God…a Kingdom that will never fade away.

And I believe for many of you in this room, today is the day that you put your faith in Jesus Christ…and start an amazing relationship with Him.

This is an amazing thing to do!

It’s something that I did when I was 18 years old, and it radically changed my life…for the better.

And SO many people in this very room have made this exact decision at a service just like this, and it’s completely changed their lives…for now…and for eternity.

And I want to give you an opportunity to make that incredible choice too.  

In fact, let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.

If you want to do this …in just a moment, I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.

It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “Here I am.  This is the real me.  I’m not perfect.  I need you.  And if you really love me like that…then I believe.  I’ll follow” 

NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!).  This is about you and God. 

This is just a way for you to symbolically say, “I believe.  I’m putting my faith in Jesus.

From this moment onward, to the best of my ability, I will be a follower of this amazing JESUS.

Maybe you are here today and have believed God exists, but you don’t have a relationship with him. You’ve never made this commitment. This is a time for you to do so.

So wherever you are, all across this room right now.. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.

If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s real.  That means…it’s TIME.   If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God.  Accept His forgiveness.  Start a new life with Him.  It’s amazing!

If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?

It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths. 

So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me

IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe. 

So, let’s all say it together with these new believers. 

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you. 

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins. 

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.  

(you can keep your eyes closed)

If you are standing, I need you to do one more thing for me.

It will only take 2 minutes, but it’s 2 of the most important minutes of your life.

In just a second, I’m going to pray, and right as I begin praying, I need you quietly sneak out of your row, and go to the back of the room

Our follow-up team is back there by the blue rectangle to give you some extremely important resources to get started on the most important journey in your life.

So head back there…it’ll only take 2 minutes…and you’ll be able to sneak back to your seat .

Let me pray (You can go back)

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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