By Rev. Zac Head, Associate Pastor of Worship and Discipleship –
Recently a photo editing app for mobile devices went viral. The FaceApp photo editor was downloaded 12.7 million times by first time users in one week. That is pretty close to the total combined population of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. What on earth could inspire such an extreme response in such a short time? The most used feature of this app is a photo filter which takes an image of a person’s face and gives an estimation of what that person might look like after three or four decades of aging.
I participated in the viral craze and used the app to see what I might look like in four decades or so, should I be blessed enough to enjoy this life for that long. The results were gracious in terms of the amount of hair it estimated I might still have in my early seventies. Nearly everyone who commented on my Facebook post of the pictures made a reference to Santa Clause (It must be the beard, though I imagine my round face helps a bit as well). Overall, I was pleased with the results and while I know this app is purely for entertainment and is in no way an accurate representation of what I might look like later in life, it gave me a little hope that I may keep more of my hair than I had previously expected (I’ll have to ask my barber how things are going up there).
This fun experiment left me thinking about a deeper matter (this is quite typical as I tend to over-think everything). Should I be blessed with a life which extends into the decades to come, who will I be? Who do I want to be? There will be people who only know me for the person I will be then rather than the person I am now, after-all. What emotions will be felt, memories observed, when people see an image of me at that point in my life?
I hope I will be kind. I hope that I won’t be easily angered. I mean who wants to be known as the grumpy old man? I hope that I will have so much joy in my heart that there won’t be space for lists of times I’ve been wronged. I hope that joy will be inspired by goodness and not things that cause pain for others. I hope I am patient. I hope I won’t envy others for what they have, or brag about the things l have had. I hope I lift others up instead of putting them down.
These are the ways that 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 describes love. Looking at these estimates of what I might look like in a few decades made me imagine what my heart might look like then as well. If I’m being honest the estimation of what my heart might look like in forty years is far more important to me than that of my face (yes, even how much hair I get to keep). This experiment reminded me that my physical being is temporary and fickle, but the faith, hope, and love within my heart are the eternal parts of my being (1 Corinthians 13:13). Even if I become a very handsome Santa Clause stand-in, if what defines who I am is not love, I will be nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).
So let us dream about the future together. Let us be reminded of what is temporary and what is eternal. Let us delight in what is good as we patiently, kindly, joyfully, selflessly express the love of God which dwells within us. What could be more viral than the love of God?