"Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7
I receive weekly Newsletters from my local church, City Church Tallahassee (you can find them here). This past Thursday, I got their email dropped off in my inbox. Every email has a testimony from a member and I love reading them because it shows that everyone is human and deals with the same things I deal with. Sometimes, I feel like others are, “More holier than thou,” for countless numbers of reason, but that is something for another post. I wanted to share with you guys, though, the post/testimony from this past week because it is so relevant to our generation and time. It really spoke to me. So, without further adieu:
by Giana Lopez Hall
A few months ago, I created an Instagram account. (This is not a plug– don’t follow me, I’m not that interesting.) The second that I created one, it was almost as if I felt my life cheapen a little bit. For so long I was the one person I knew without that thing that everyone has. In high school, I didn’t have a phone until way later than everyone else. Same was true about a car. I almost derived pleasure from not needing the things that other people “needed.” I was comfortable not having the latest and greatest thing. But as I’ve grown and come to be able to buy things for myself and become a part of the twenty-first century, I’ve found that I miss high-school me just a little bit. I have a smart phone, I have a car in my name, I have a job that pays the bills, and I have pretty much the same things my friends have. But in obtaining all of those things, I have found a yearning that was not there before. I have found that in some ways, I was more satisfied not having things than I am now, having them. My husband and I can lay in bed not talking to each other for 45 minutes while he scrolls through his Twitter feed and I pin things on Pinterest, and we’re not even mad at each other! We’re just distracted by this distant world where people are doing things.
Different platforms are better suited to some people than others. I know Christians that have platforms on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram and they are using those to glorify God. I myself love words and find Twitter to be a great way to post encouraging words and verses. But Instagram tugged at me in a very uncomfortable way. In the spirit of transparency, I’ll admit that the night I created an account, I literally walked around my house trying to find something interesting to take a picture of. It was so stupid! I suddenly felt immense pressure to appease this invisible crowd of people with small glimpses into my life. And I came up with nothing! It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I was able to verbalize my frustration with this new world where social media presence is so prevalent. My husband and I were on a trip and visited this amazing coffee shop. From the decor to the professionalism of the staff to the menu to the presentation of the food and drinks, this place was incredible! But because I didn’t want to be just another girl taking a picture of her coffee on Instagram, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to take a picture the whole time I was in there. I felt compelled to refrain from documenting the experience so that no one would think I was lame, or, even worse, bragging about coffee. But the truth is that I felt really sad when I left. I wanted to celebrate the artistry of the people working there and I wanted to remember this fun coffee date, but I felt a strange tension between pleasing God and pleasing Instagram. I could have taken pictures and not posted them, but I was so focused on not doing something dumb or prideful that I didn’t even do that.
Now there is a large chance that I’m just crazy and I over-think things, but I think that’s a result of the heavy influence of social media in the lives of Christians living in 2013. We want to honor God and “die to selfies,” as Dean says, but we also want to be interesting and important. We want to make an impact, so we post about everything. Is there a balance? Is there a way to honor God through the way we conduct ourselves on social media? I think there is, since some Christians do it well, by God’s grace. So what are those guidelines?
Even though the Bible was written long ago, it is so on point with this issue. Let’s look to Scripture.
1. We’re not trying to make disciples of ourselves, but of Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 27:2 says, “let another praise you, and not your own mouth– a stranger, and not your own lips.” We don’t need to re-tweet compliments or boast about our accomplishments. We are loved to the skies by the Father and His Son, so we don’t need to glean our love from social media followers. We don’t. It’s that simple. Further, 2 Corinthians 4:5 says, “For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.” Wow. Do we act that way on Twitter and Facebook? Do we act as though we are slaves to the mission of God? Usually, we act like we’re movie stars and that every minute detail of our existence is worthy of public applause. Instead of thinking about others, we’re thinking about how to angle or add contrast to that picture to hide our double chins or find pictures of ourselves that are 4 years old when we were skinnier to put as our profile pictures. We’re obsessed with ourselves. And we need everyone to be obsessed with us too.
2. There is nothing to complain about, stop.
John 1:16 says, “from the fullness of His grace, we have all received one blessing after another.”
If you are in Christ, there is no need to post a paragraph-long rant about how bad your day was because someone was chewing loudly at work or someone in line ahead of you at Publix took a long time to find their debit card. Use your words to edify people, to love them.
3. Your life, your thoughts, and your words belong to God to further His kingdom.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Your words are coming out into the world with a Jesus label on them, so be careful how you judge and gossip and gripe and boast through social media. You belong to Christ!
4. This life is not the end.
I envy the clarity that Paul had on what was, and what was not, important in his time on earth. He is the one who wrote ‘my life is worth nothing to me if I don’t finish the race of testifying to God’s grace.’ That is a far cry from my life, in which I can spend hours pinning haircuts and home decor ideas to secret boards and not once think about how pointless that is. I should put my phone down and be in the presence of real people.
Let’s use our social media platforms to encourage others, glorify Jesus, and celebrate life without feeling like we have to conform to a false idea of importance or temporary fame. Our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts belong to Christ, whether we acknowledge that or not. Let’s find beauty in the things that God finds beauty in, and not try to make ourselves famous to an insatiable world.
(Giana Lopez Hall is a native of West Palm Beach, and after five years in Tallahassee still hates country music. She graduated from FSU with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing in 2010 and is taking a break from her seminary program to be able to afford food and shelter. She likes burnt popcorn, iced coffee, cooking shows, and her husband Caleb.)