There is a trend growing among millennials who frequent social media hubs and also value their relationship with God. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like are now becoming platforms for people to put their relationship with God out there for all to see. Posts can include Bible verses of day, lines from favorite authors, photos with inspirational quotes, updates from ministry opportunities, and the list goes on. All of this has the potential to be Kingdom building. However, these sort of things can also keep up from a deep satisfying relationship with Christ.
Jesus says in Matthew 5, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” I remember first starting to use social media and being excited about how it could connect me so easily with other people. It opened up opportunities of communication that weren’t possible all in one place before. I could send messages to my friends instantly, or share what I was up to with everyone. The unique thing about social media outlets is that it gives people a voice. Where in daily life only certain people are given a platform to speak to a number of individuals, social media gives that opportunity at every moment of every day. Soon enough I realized that I could also use this as a place to share my faith. I could post about the things God was teaching me each week, or share an encouraging song I had been listening to. My hope was that even some of my Non-Christian friends would be exposed to my faith. I believe many others have also taken this platform and attempted to use it to glorify God.
Somewhere along the line I believe that we have been misdirected in the use of our faith in social media. I have scrolled through hundreds of posts that contain references to individual’s faith in Jesus. Being honest, I have lost my attraction for these sorts of pieces of information. Once in a while something stands out, but for the most part these posts seem like an endless lineup of clones. Many posts seem to have unfortunately substituted substance for shallowness. How do we redeem the meaning once again? I think that we have lost something extremely important that we need to find.
One of the issues that millennials are facing is the need to feel wanted and accepted. The Church should be a place where this feeling is present. Yet, so many of us are using our faith to try to gain the acceptance of people, rather than God. This is an idea within Christian social media that we need to put to death. We have been guilty of using these outlets to display faith that is adventurous, exciting, hopeful, inspiring. We feel that unless we can also provide posts like this, we won’t match up, we won’t feel accepted. This is all wrong.
I am guilty of using my faith to try to gain the acceptance of humans rather than God. This isn’t just on Facebook but also at home, at school, at church, and in my workplace. I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” We need to remember that our acceptance and meaning is not found through humans but rather in the God who loves us. This means that we need to spend less time talking about our relationship with him to gain people’s acceptance and more time with him alone, listening to his voice.
However, there are moments where sharing is necessary. Jesus is calling us to share our testimony. The world needs to know of his greatness and love through our story of his faithfulness. Baptism which is a huge part of the Christian faith calls us to do just that. By entering the water, we publicly declare what God has done for us and do it in the midst of a faith community that can hold us accountable. The challenge is to learn how to discern whether and when our stories should be shared.
So next time you encounter God in an amazing way, ask him the question, “Is this moment to be shared, or is it just for you and me?” There is an awesome moment in the recent film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, where the main character finds the legendary photographer he has been looking for. Perched on top of a mountain, the photographer is waiting to take a picture of a rare Himalayan mountain lion. It finally appears, and the main character asks, “Aren’t you going to take the picture?” He doesn’t but instead, the photographer decides to stay in the moment and soak it in. He understands that beautiful moments are sometimes best just experienced rather than shared with the whole world.
I wonder if God is calling us to dwell in moments with him. Instead of running immediately to the next step of sharing, let us remain in a place of being filled before we move to pour out.