By Brian Hoogerwerf, MBC Tysons Young Adults Team Volunteer
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? How about the last thing before bed? For many of us the answer to either or both questions has something to do with checking email or social media. We live in a world that grants us instant connectivity to friends, family, work and news. Social media and technology are fantastic for bringing others into our community, but we must be careful of the constant influence on our faith life. With all this input, it is more challenging than ever to find quiet time, avoid distractions, and calm down our frequently multi-tasking minds.
Since social media is here to stay, perhaps we should focus on what it looks like to live out the Gospel in and through our technology-saturated lives. This is a personal question that requires each of us to evaluate the effects of media on our own lives and to act as the Holy Spirit convicts us individually, with the understanding that our convictions may differ from others’.
This is the first and last battle faced every day. As each of us strives to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul and strength and love his neighbor as himself, it is in the small things that he must work this out. There is no action too extreme for getting closer to the Lord. Jesus taught that we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). For me, this meant deleting Facebook and Internet browsers from my phone because I am too prone to scrolling through status updates on my commute or before bed rather than dedicating that precious time to prayer and reading God’s Word.
I urge you to avoid passivity and start taking even small steps to love the Lord with your heart’s full attention. Try taking brief sabbaticals from technology to pray about this, and then act on your convictions. Through my own time out, I found a sweet relief and closeness with God that allowed me to hear His still, small voice. Please know that I would never ask you to act on my convictions, but I share these ideas because some of the most significant spiritual guardrails I currently practice came from others who shared their convictions with me.
One final aspect of this important issue is how we can support each other in the daily battle for living out the Gospel amidst overwhelming distractions. In Romans 14:13, Paul encourages believers to “stop passing judgment on one another… Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” In another letter, Paul says that we should “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). If your friend decides to avoid certain forms of entertainment that you feel comfortable with, do not think of him as weaker, rather respect his decision. If his conscience is affected, support him as he pursues holiness. How can we not give grace when our brother is striving to be closer to the Lord? This is what the body of Christ is called to do.
Whose influence do you want to hear first thing in the morning and last thing at night? The answer to this question reveals who is in control of your life. If today were your last day on earth, what would you want to spend your time doing? What would God want you to be doing? I challenge you to turn down the noise in your life and get alone with your thoughts. These quiet times of whole-hearted worship will refresh you with peace that transcends understanding.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.