I spent an hour the other night talking with my roommates about social media over spaghetti and meatballs.
This was not the first conversation we’ve had about it.
We’ve spent hours over the past few years dissecting our relationship with social media, talking about its addictive nature, vowing to get rid of it, deleting it, and exchanging passwords, only to have the same conversation a few months later since we’ve all hacked back into our accounts, slacked on our boundaries, and are spending more time than we’d like to on it.
The next night, it came up in a small group discussion in response to reading Ephesians.
It even came up in a song my cousins played for me as we were sitting in their pickup truck, sipping Mellow Yellow by the side of the road just outside of Lander, Wyoming:
We used to live on Instagram and worry ‘bout who all gives a d***.
I’ve never heard Florida Georgia Line’s music before, but this lyric made me revisit the idea again:
Do I live on Instagram? Does that mean I’m worrying about who gives a d***.
At the end of the day, God, not FGL, keeps putting this in front of me and bringing it to mind.
What has resulted is not a series of posts hating on Instagram or Facebook.
It is not a series full of numbers - how often we open the app, the hours spent on it every day, and days spent on it every year. It would freak you out for about a second and then you’d probably open Instagram cuz it took a whole minute to read the stats. Their shock value alone doesn’t have the power to change habits and hearts.
It’s also not a series where I tell you that I’ve figured out how to “do” social media well or that I know exactly what God wants us to believe about it. The Bible does not speak directly to Mark Zuckerberg or Kevin Systrom’s groundbreaking apps.
It does speak a lot to the allegiances of our hearts, how we spend our time, the words we speak, what we fill our minds with, and how we represent Jesus. Whether we realize it or not, every time we click those little squares on our phones, we open up all of the above.
I’ve had a lot of conversations in this last year about my relationship with social media:
What should it be? Can it exist in a healthy way? Does it need to? Why am I fighting for it? Is it the relationship I just can’t quit even though I should? Should it even exist?
A few years ago, I would have had a direct answer for you to all of those questions and a complete thought that was simply that - just my own thought.
In His grace, God is teaching me to be slower to speak on questions and pray for wisdom on anything the Bible doesn’t speak directly to. To not shout where the Bible whispers, and to pray for discernment and ears to hear: What has God already said?
I think sometimes we’re looking for a verse to say “I command you to use Instagram in this way,” when the reality is, God has already said a lot - about our words, about our hearts, and about idols or things we worship instead of Him.
I don’t know about you, but I find my tendency still is to pass over those things in search of a specific verse with an answer. Something I can concretely do because heart searching and heart transformation is slower and significantly more painful.
In the meantime, God keeps repeating the things about our words, our hearts, and idols. It’s like He’s trying to say, “You’re missing what I have already said. Submit to me in these things and I’ll give you wisdom and power each day to know what they practically mean.”
In this way, we truly need Him every hour. If we were all knowing with hearts capable of applying all that we are called to in the Bible, we’d be God.
Social media may often tell us that we are gods of our own lives or make us feel all-knowing, but we most certainly are not called to be the gods of our own lives and we are definitely not all-knowing.
That being said, here’s what this series of posts is.
It is full of Scripture, encouragement, and questions I continue to be challenged by.
I unpack a lot of my own tendencies, habits, things I do without thinking, and thoughts in my head and heart. It gets real and reveals a lot that’s not pretty. Thank goodness Jesus washes us clean and makes us new!
In 1 John 1:8-9 it says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If we press in and ask God to search us and know us, to test us and know our anxious thoughts, we will all find that, as in every area of our lives, there are offensive ways in our hearts when it comes to dealing with social media (Psalm 139:23-24). But we don’t end there - we then ask Him to lead us in the way everlasting.
I’d invite you to do this: Prayerfully read through Scripture, ask yourself questions about God’s desire for your heart in this, and ask God to help you submit to Him, holding what you believe about social media and your relationship to it with open hands.
If you follow Jesus, this much is true: Your life is not your own (1 Cor 6:19). That means your profile, your relationship with social media, and your relationships with all the people on it are not your own. They exist for the glory of God and the growth of His kingdom.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you keep reading and praying! I’m continuing to be challenged and humbled in this area and I’d love to hear how God’s encouraging and challenging you!