More than any other aspect of modern technology, social media has impacted our daily lives. Take a moment to look around– you will notice that nearly everyone has their nose glued to their smartphone. There is an urge to Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Tweet even the most mundane of our daily activities as we express our identity to the world. We share our insecurities, pour out our condolences and give virtual likes and hugs. In fact, we are rapidly moving toward creating a cyber existence in which we create a contrived image of ourselves on social media by means of the photos we update, the posts and statuses we share, and the comments we make. A picture is not complete unless you filter it on Snapchat and a life event is not fully experienced unless you share it on Facebook and Instagram. Yet the Bible declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14, KJV). If this is so, then why should we seek to present a virtual-idealistic version of ourselves?
The world has been taken by storm by the onset of the social media obsession. Our priorities have changed and our habits have been modified as social media increasingly encroach into our lifestyles. For many, the first activity of the morning is to check instant messaging like Whatsapp and Messenger. Contrast this practice with that of David, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). Even the Lord Himself began His day by seeking the Father, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35, NIV).
While social media platforms are useful to keep us connected with the life events of friends and families, there are other posts on these networking sites that can be decidedly detrimental.
The first of the Ten Commandments states ‘You will have no other gods before Me” and yet in a practical sense social media oftentimes take first place in our lives. Whatever displaces God from preeminence in our lives becomes, in effect, an idol. The Bible says, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). We have to be careful not to let social media become more important than our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ because there is nothing good apart from our Lord Jesus Christ (Psalms 16:2).
While social media platforms are useful to keep us connected with the life events of friends and families, there are other posts on these networking sites that can be decidedly detrimental. It is impossible to avoid the obscenities of what ungodly people post neither can we avoid the suggestive commercial advertisements. The Bible clearly says, “fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” (Philippians 4:8).
It may not seem that way, but every picture you post, every status you update, every account you follow and every comment you make on social media is a representation of Christ to those who don’t know Him. Therefore we have to be very careful and thoughtful before posting and liking articles or following a page. While our words and pictures can encourage others, they also have the power to discourage. Before you share something on social media, ask yourself, why am I sharing this post, picture, or video? Remember “you have been raised with Christ,” and therefore “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians. 3:1-2, 17)
It is important that we not be slaves to a virtual world that diverts our focus from Him through pop-up notifications.
Interestingly we are also discovering another remarkable development in our churches—use of smart phones instead of a traditional Bible. Influx of smartphones into worship services comes with consequences. The phone can be a distraction even when you use it only to read the Bible because of pop-up notifications from other apps, especially from social media apps. The never-ending notifications can take your attention away from the Word. Using the phone in church brings the temptation to do other things too. Once that phone is in your hand your mind jumps to Whatsapp and messenger texts, Facebook timeline and Instagram stories. Most of us are guilty of checking our phones during worship/bible studies or to have walked off in between church-meetings to attend calls. The Bible says, “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves.” (Mathew 21:12). If Jesus were here today, He perhaps would have thrown our phones out of the church because Christ says, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer” (Mathew 21:13) and thence nothing should be there that would distract our thoughts from the Lord. There is absolutely nothing that we would miss out on if we don’t carry our phones to church. There is, however, a lot that we would definitely miss out on if we don’t place Christ as our first priority in life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is a jealous God and He demands our wholehearted devotion and undivided attention while we are in His presence. It is important that we not be slaves to a virtual world that diverts our focus from Him through pop-up notifications. Paul says, “I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” (1 Corinthians 7:35). We must choose Christ above all things and love Christ above all things.
Did you know? Even before social media introduced the ‘Follow’ button, Jesus has sent out a follow invite: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mathew 4:19). “Be ye therefore followers of God” (Ephesians 5:1).
Nimmy Merlien Philip – Guest Contributor
Nimmy Merlien Philip is a freelance journalist from Manipal, India. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Media and Communication.