Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Facebook's wake-up call to the hearts of all Christians





I look at people's Facebook posts and they make me think a lot.  What is the motivation behind sharing your thoughts, news, and memories for the entire world to see?  Many of us have a mixture of reasons, and sometimes they can veer out of control.  Sure we love to keep communication open with far-away friends and family, share news and invites with those close-by, and make everyone laugh at good-natured happenings in our lives.  But the longer one lingers on our news feed and the more they read and respond to posts, the more ugly heart issues can be revealed from beneath our activity on our nicely organized, beautifully presented profiles.
We love to look good.  When do you ever see a mom friend who has just gotten out of bed in the morning toting a half-dressed, soggy-diapered baby on her hip ask her husband to take their photo and post it on Facebook?  It rarely happens, y'all. And how many of us have cropped out our muffin tops when we forgot to suck them in?  Can we have a confession? Then there are those who abuse photo shop....  I think you get the idea. We crave praise and honor.  Admit it. We quote Scripture sometimes out of the motivation, not to inspire someone to follow Christ more, but to look more holy ourselves. Ouch.  We want our family to be seen as superior.  It is almost unheard of to see a parent praise and uplift another parent's child of the same age as theirs.  How often do you see your kid's classmate's parent get on Facebook and say "Congratulations to Jane Doe's little Tommy for beating my little Johnny's t-ball team with a grand slam today!"  So that we can justify sharing it, We want to appear humble through prideful moments.  Ever read someone say "We are so blessed!" as they post a photo of a new fancy sports car or very expensive home?  I have read a famous conservative blogger make the statement that we are the most egocentric generation of humans to ever occupy the planet earth.  "Out of the recesses of our hearts our mouths (or keypads) speak". (Luke 6:45) It's easy to let that craving for acceptance and popularity spill out onto a newsfeed when you have 800+ people as your audience every.single.day.

Facebook and other social media can dig at every vulnerability our fragile egos hold.
- when you see that childhood friend post pictures of her fourth baby and a tinge of envy stirs within you on a day when you are trying to stay content with your lonely only
- when you see someone celebrate the purchase of their enormous house when you have never had the means to buy even a starter home
-when those friends celebrate success upon success of their children's accomplishments, seemingly flaunting them on the screen with photos of awards, honors, and recognitions, while your own child with a learning disability or behavioral problem struggles just to behave well and study enough to keep up with his peers
The whole social media "blessing" can become a stronghold of bitterness, guilt, and jealousy.

How do we battle these emotions?  How can we overlook the possible motivations behind the people who appear to be boasting (when actually they may NOT be).  How can we not respond with competitiveness and try to outdo their number of "likes" or comments?  Is there a passage in Scripture that can help us and guide us in this area?  
I battle these feelings all the time.  Like Paul states in 1 Timothy 1:15 "I am the chief of sinners."   I am tempted (and sometimes give in) to the urge to respond, and in turn look smaller, more immature, and prouder than I appeared before.  It is an ugly cycle.
So should we as Christians who are vulnerable to these sinful actions avoid social media?  Should we delete our accounts so we can live purer and holier lives and be more content with the blessings we have been given?  Should we de-friend or block everyone who posts things that tempt us to stumble?  Some would say yes to all of this.  I don't condemn you for doing so.  If your right eye causes you to sin, you must pluck it out, right? (Matthew 5:29) You are taking action for removing what is an irresistible temptation.  If this is the course you feel God wants you to take, then I commend your decision to do so.
Facebook and other social media is like many technological advances we have been given in this day in age; it can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.
So how can we best safeguard those impulses to feed those innate desires to receive what our sinful natures crave?

#1: Remind ourselves that our identity comes not from what is around us, but Who is within us.  Deuteronomy 7:6: For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.  I am a treasured, adopted child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  It can't get any better than that!

#2: Remember that we should always strive to please our Savior, not our audience. 1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

#3: Reflect on your emotional reaction to someone else's accomplishment and ask yourself "Is this humility or pride?"  Pray for that person to be even more blessed if your answer is pride (that will keep your heart in check, guaranteed!) Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. 

#4: Respond to posts with this Scripture in mind.  Philippians 2:1-4: "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.That is the mind of Christ!

#5: Renew your mind with God's promises in His Word every time you are envious or discouraged by others who appear to be liked more than you.  Remember what really matters is the applause and approval of God.  Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.   

#6: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who morn (Romans 12:15)  Pray for them when they need it, and encourage them when they are dejected and hopeless.  Don't judge them by their apparent motives for posting, but remember that we should love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)  I'm not saying condone what God's Word says is wrong.  If I see a post a sister in Christ made displaying and talking about obvious sin, will I "like" her status to show support?  No.  That is what she is seeking to ease the conviction in her heart.  Should I pray for her and look for opportunities to point her to God's Word and restoration?  Absolutely.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media can be used as a tool for us to be ministers of peace, a light in the darkness, and ambassadors for our Savior.  Sure, everyone is going to mess up every now and then in a moment of pride and weakness, and this is an opportunity for each of us to show grace.  Christlikeness is a continual process.  


I am just beginning to sort this out.  If you have useful ideas that have worked for you, I highly encourage you to share them in the comments section so all of us can benefit!  I don't want this post to be seen as a guideline, but as a motivator to examine our hearts. Hopefully this can be a springboard to discuss, share, and keep each other accountable as we strive daily to have hearts more like Jesus and less like the world.

2 comments:

  1. Tonya: I have a question and wonder what you think.....you see a post a friend has made and it has 4-letter word(s) in it. You know it was typed by them...(not a cut and paste job)....this is '"out of character for them..they know better. Do you call them out (personal message of course), or do you ignore it? Something I struggle with?? Your thoughts???

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  2. I don't see myself as the Biblical Facebook Authority of what to say or not say, but personally if they were a friend I knew respected me and could handle confrontation I would gently private message them, or better yet, talk in person if possible. People can read into typed messages, but there's less risk of miscommunication when they see our facial expressions when we speak in person. If it was someone who didn't know me well who may not understand the intentions of my heart when confronting them, maybe an indirect approach would be better, like sharing an article I would find online about purity of speech and being a stumbling block. If anyone else would like to chime in, please do!

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