Recently, I made a different New Year’s resolution. Of course, I wanted to read my Bible everyday and make sure I would pray regularly, but I wanted to do something differently: I wanted to take a picture everyday and post it on Instagram. My reasoning? I wanted to remind myself to stop and enjoy and see with fresh eyes the world around me. Sure, I want to take better pictures as well, but I really wanted to look back and see what the Lord had been doing in my life. John Piper’s tweet rings true: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” My thinking was that by taking a picture everyday, I might become aware of a fourth or fifth.
So let me begin by saying that I think social media, while full of dangers, can have a redemptive place in the life of Christians and churches. At the same time, I think many of us are too reactive and not proactive enough. We do things because those are the things that people do without necessarily meditating on the whys of the whats. And I see a lot of that in the way many of us use social media. Particularly, I think our pages and timelines and boards are too full of ourselves.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul tells us: “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.”
In context, the apostle is comparing salvation by works and Jewish inheritance with true salvations that come by faith alone in Jesus alone. If you read the entire chapter, you can see that Paul is saying something along the lines of: “I don’t care that I was born as a Jew, that there were other apostles before me, that I might have been well behaved by the standards of the Law, or that everyone in the church approves of me. The only thing I care about is that I’m found in Christ because my life is not my own.”
Getting to a place like this, where you genuinely don’t trust in yourself and your might, where you’re not worrying what others think of you, where you stop wanting to be the first — that’s only possible by the grace of God at work killing our selfishness day by day.
So what does this have to do with our social media? A lot, actually. Go to your Facebook page, and see if you can say with confidence that your account says, “On Facebook, I no longer live, but Christ.” Who are your posts about? Who is the protagonist of your photos? And I completely understand that many of us use Facebook as our way of communicating with friends and family. I am not judging you at all — we’re in this together. So let me ask you: Who comes out in your comments? In your interaction with others? Is it evident that you no longer live?
How are we doing with Twitter? This is probably my favorite social media network. Can you imagine Paul retweeting compliments to his letters and books? Shouting at the Roman Government representatives? Or letting all his followers know how hungry he was? And yet, if we don’t pay attention, that’s exactly how our social media looks. Filled with congratulations and letting everyone know what we’re doing or how we’ve been #blessed. Even with good intentions, our timelines might actually be all about us. Are we genuinely trying to point to our Savior?
How are doing with Instagram? How many of our pictures are of us doing God’s work? I believe that the spirit behind Matthew 6 — of praying in private (6:6), giving to the poor in secret (6:3), and hiding our fasting (6:17) — should make us think twice of promoting everything we’re doing for God, be it conferences, devotionals, or prayer meetings. How does it show that we’re no longer living for us if all of our page is filled with the best curated pictures of us we can find?
So who’s the star of your social media accounts? Do they show you looking small and Christ looking big? How do they show that you’ve been crucified and you no longer live? I don’t have the answers, but I’m thinking and praying through this. Would you join me?