Smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers invite us to allow social media to enter into every corner of our lives. This can be a great benefit to us. We engage and connect with people who encourage, motivate, and inspire us. Social media can also provide the most disruptive and debilitating moments of our lives. It interferes with our goals and contentment. We even replace talk about "my life" with an ongoing narrative about "my story."
We stare at our screens as if they'll offer us a glimpse of our future. Connected to each other virtually, has cut us loose from connecting with each other in actuality. But, would any of us, in our most honest moments, admit that we live today as if it were our last? Most of the time, the answer is no. We all imagine we have more time. Otherwise, if today were our last day on earth, our last day on this side of the grave, why would we spend it filtering photos, retweeting the latest political scandal, and liking someone's satirical church meme?
Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. God gives us today only. So then why do we trouble ourselves daydreaming about life as it's depicted for us on social media? How much of today is dedicated to regretting past actions or worrying about what will happen to us tomorrow?
Our regrets and anxiety don't exist in the past or future. They are conjured up and given life by us in the present tense, especially when we allow social media to depict for us the people we should, and should not, be. Much like the past and future, we give social media power and influence over our lives. In short, just like the past and future, we make social media our god.
We project our emotions onto the internet in the form of filtered photos, tweets, and memes. Those emotions are then affirmed or denied by others who give us a thumb's up or down. The more likes and followers, the more we're assured that our life is on the right path. The fewer retweets and mentions, the more certain we are that our life is insignificant and meaningless. Instead of turning to God in prayer to ask for all we need, we turn to social media. A new god for a new, digital age. A god that promises us that our every thought, emotion, and selfie can live forever.
Or maybe, it's time for Christians to lead the charge and reject this age's digital god. Maybe, at a time when leaving social media is met with stunned looks and more questions than congratulations, it's time for Christians to close our laptops and shut off our smartphones, if only for a little while. Or, at the very least, we ask ourselves, "What good is social media really doing for me, my relationships, and my overall well-being?"
Our smartphones, tablets, and laptops tempt us to enter into a virtual world without flesh and blood. A world without concrete, real consequences. No real pain or suffering, and no actual death. No preacher to lay hands on our heads and absolve us. Nothing of God's Word and Spirit in the water poured over us. No body and blood poured down our throats. No love passed back and forth, whether a handshake or a hug, between two baptized sinners.
On social media we can be immortal, invulnerable, and impervious to hurt and harm, which means we don't need a flesh and blood God to save us from real, concrete sins, death, and Satan. In virtual reality, we don't need Jesus to be really present for us. We just need more likes.
More often than not, we allow social media to tempt us into wasting time, busying ourselves with unnecessary things, and prioritizing trivialities. So, maybe it's time to repent. Maybe it's time to ask ourselves, “Is this necessary?”
Maybe, it's time to admit that the reason we're all so enchanted and bewitched by social media is that, sinners that we are, we prefer a digital god who promises us a life without hurt and harm to a Savior who suffers, bleeds, and dies for us. More than that, Jesus goes ahead of us into our own suffering, bleeding, and death, to redeem it in the power of his resurrection.
Social media can be a great benefit to us, but it can never give us a concrete, real Savior. So maybe today is a good day to pull down our false digital god and return to our first love, our God and Savior, the man Jesus Christ. The God and Savior who comes and gives himself to us through concrete gifts of words, water, bread and wine in a real place he calls, "The Church."
If we search online, we will probably find that it's just down the road.