ek. I know it. Social media talks, really? We are totally not teenage girls here. But as much as we don't want to touch on this topic, we need to. We all really
As you are reading this, you probably have a smartphone within arms-length from you. You probably have a tablet or computer of some sort nearby as well. I just want to start off by saying, wow, we are blessed
. God has allowed us to be in this moment in history, so touched by innovation and technology that work and communication are faster and easier than ever before. With this, I'm so filled with praise to God that we have access to His Word, global work, and one another like never before. It is truly incredible.
Yet, I think most of us just need a bit of confession here with this time in history, this social media time in history to be exact. We can come to the Lord in our inner nakedness and be real. That the inches worth of screen we hold in our hands have, at times, led us to open the door to the sin crouching in wait for us (Genesis 4:7). The latter part of this verse should sting us a bit. "Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it."
If you yourself exercise complete discipline over social media, whether by excluding its presence in your life altogether or just a God-blessed-Spirit-empowering worthy walk in practicing righteousness with it, we all have to address it. Why, you may ask. Because it is all around us. My husband is a student pastor, and he recently build a phone station in our youth room so that students can leave the distraction at the door. They need this to focus. They need this to interact with one another. If not, they are glued to making live videos together, talking about what So-and-So posted, and worst of all, completely disengaging from the biblical community right in front of them. Many of them speak in hashtag terms my husband and I are out of touch with completely. To say that smartphone usage is an issue in our day and age is an understatement. It is an infatuation among youth today. And it may be for you.
Satan is crafty. He is as crafty as he was back in Genesis 3 when his questions toward Eve plunged her deep into questioning God, His character, and His love for her and Adam. The self-pondering that shifted Eve's gaze from the steadfast love of the Lord and high-geared her heart toward depleting pleasures is the same hope Satan has for us today. He hopes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The abundant life given us in the Son does not have to be mutually exclusive from technology, but we have to address it. We have to talk social media.
Why does it matter?
Well, it really
matters. Though it comes down to the heart, our interaction and behaviors toward social media are doing things. All kinds of things. Let's just be honest with ourselves and ask a few questions: Do I (or someone I know) pick up my phone, and without even realizing, click on a social media app and begin scrolling? Do I comment and like things, or even put in my opinions, on a whim? Do I rise up early and go late to rest with a phone before me and social media as my nightlight?
These questions are blatant and may not apply to you or your smartphone usage entirely, but I am certain that it's applying to someone you are close to. What seems lighthearted and simple actually builds in our minds habits we may not even fully recognize we have taken up. The disembodiment that we may be experiencing unknowingly is a real thing. We must address how we can have big cyber personalities, yet in person we are disengaged and withdrawn. These are extremes, but maybe you or someone you know can relate.
So why do we need to come face to face with our habits toward social media? Because if we have been loved by God and want to love Jesus more, we need to address whatever can infiltrate that joy from being increased and God glorified. The questions above were just the external buffers before getting to the heart of it: Do I love the praises of man? Do my personal posts and pictures ease my soul's temporal longings to be loved rather than finding my pleasure in knowing and being known by God? Do I scroll through others' lives, finding myself so dissatisfied with my own?
A key passage from God's Word has guided my own personal interaction with social media:
"Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not toselfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
And give me life in your ways."
Right out of the gate, I want to be clear that social media usage is not in and of itself a "worthless thing" or "selfish gain." I follow and am friends with so many that behold the glory of God on their social platforms, even by their squishy baby pictures or coffee mugs. It's beautiful and encouraging to the soul to read! Yet in these verses David is directing us to bend our hearts so into the Life Book that God has provided for us that we won't get stuck on the peripheral. David is saying that the Bible holds for us life
. And when we glue hearts to this Book rather than screens, we won't find our affections so quickly perforated when the slightest temptation of comparison or whatever else social media may ignite comes against us. We are begging God then, Lord turn my eyes from worthless things. Give to me what only you can offer. Life! Life! Life! Fix my eyes upon what is eternal. Bend my inward longings to You and away from myself. You are my joy!
Don't grow weary in your daily fight for Jesus, dear ones. You and I, and the rest of our global church, have this earnest work of killing sin and finding full satisfaction in the one who knows all things, made all things, and drew us to Himself through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. Call to Him. He is worthier than you ever have to make yourself out to be on a screen.
By Melissa Dennis
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, issue 8.