A few weeks ago, I packed my bags and traveled to Indianapolis to attend The Gospel Coalition's 2021 Women's Conference. If you have never attended one of these conferences, I highly recommend it! It was amazing to be with so many women who love the Lord and to hear from well-known speakers and Bible teachers. You can check out the information for their next conference here. One of the sessions I attended covered the subject of social media. There was a panelist of four women who each have a significant online platform and following, and as I listened, I noticed that they all echoed the same thought again and again:
We become what we behold.
Many Bible teachers have said this statement. But in a technological world, the statement has profound meaning for our generation.
Our phones and social media have the power to change us because we spend hours and hours beholding them. Many of these changes happen whether we realize it or not. We tend to be flippant about who we follow online as we scroll through our feeds, but the posts or photos we see contribute to the thoughts we think and the actions we take. They influence us. At first, the influence may seem subtle, but over time it builds and builds.
Throughout 2020, I noticed that I was becoming easily frustrated, irritable, and anxious. My husband and I discussed this one night over dinner, and he shared that he had been feeling the same way. We had been in quarantine for a few weeks (since it was the beginning of the pandemic) and had spent a lot of time on our phones, lounging the day away. We began to realize that our social media intake was significantly contributing to the feelings we were having. 2020 was a challenging year for so many reasons, and social media encapsulated all of the fear, anger, and heartbreak people were experiencing. And I don't know about you, but my screen time was off the charts when I was in quarantine, and all the feelings expressed on my newsfeed began to grow and fester in my heart. It had become too much to bear. I had to put healthy limits and boundaries on my time online.
The people you follow and interact with in your online world have the power to influence your thoughts and feelings. They can shape who you are. And if many of the people you follow do not love the things of the Lord, what is that doing to your mind and heart?
I want to note here that I am not encouraging you to unfriend or unfollow every person who is not a believer on your social media accounts. It is good and wise to hear from other circles besides our Christian brothers and sisters. Knowing secular thoughts and beliefs helps us preach the gospel to our current age. However, if your favorite influencers do not follow Jesus, and you give them a significant amount of your time, you may find yourself caring less for the things of God and more for the things of the world. We must not forget that because we are human, we are easily influenced and forgetful of God and His ways.
And when we are more present with our online world, we miss out on being shaped by the people who stand before us in our families, communities, work environments, and churches. People that God has specifically placed in our lives to change how we live. Even more tragically, we lose time beholding our Savior. What if we were to set aside our phones and social media accounts regularly throughout the day so we could instead give additional moments to Christ? He can accomplish much more with our time, and the change He will make to our hearts will be of far greater value than any change created by our social media.
Our small steps of faithfulness toward Him will lead to larger steps of faithfulness down the road. But we must also remember that our small steps of listening to the many voices on our social media accounts every day will also lead to larger steps of adherence and acceptance of what they say.
Remember that you are in the process of becoming, so be wise with what you behold. Let your beholding belong to Christ so that who you become is a reflection of Him.