The impact of social media and the internet on our everyday lives is visible. We are constantly looking at screens, spending hours in front of a computer or phone screen in conversations through instant messaging or Twitter. Amidst this, we must not allow our time with God to fall to the background.
The aim of this article is not to force you to get rid of all your devices or delete your social media accounts. We know they can be a tool to share the gospel and stay connected with others. However, if the time on your devices is more than the time spent with God, then it is time to re-evaluate.
Identifying the problem
We can spend all week engaging with online content yet spend only 40 out of those 10,080 minutes on the things of God. Although there is nothing that can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39), God still requires us to draw near to Him (James 4:8). A quick sound bite on Sunday is a great appetiser, however, it is not enough to nourish the depth of our souls. If we do not go deeper, eventually, we will find ourselves far from God and left on empty. We then try to fill our God-sized holes of loneliness and dissatisfaction with items that do not fit when we seek escape in YouTube vlogs, laughter from memes and validation from likes on our feeds. We are seeking everything but the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
In the last lockdown, I found myself endlessly searching for entertainment to pass the time. In my seeking for a distraction, my attention drifted from Christ to vices that will never leave me satisfied.
It is easy to drift when we focus our attention solely on the things of this world as opposed to God. Who can blame us with these organisations competing for our attention? They demand it and will do anything to capture it. All these social media apps need from us is continuous engagement and they have designed specific algorithms to ensure we remain engaged. We are tempted by new alerts, notifications, and the promise of a new feed after clicking refresh. They make sure we always come back. And the more time we spend with these apps, the more attention they demand. This is the problem.
Our attention is important to God, where we spend our time and what we spend it on. But what can we do when we feel dissatisfied and in need of replenishment?
Ultimately, when we are tired and seeking rest, instead of turning to social media and the internet for fulfilment, we should find comfort in Christ. He is the source that will never run dry. The only one that can truly satisfy. Jesus says: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus can fulfil the fundamental desires that will keep us alive in this life. He calls us to Him when we are weary because He alone can provide us with the rest that we need.
Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in meMatthew 11:28-29
Jesus offers us something completely different to what the world offers. While the world offers us distractions from with our devices, Jesus offers us complete satisfaction. When we receive this type of rest, we must remove anything that does not benefit the soul.
Reassessing the content
There are things in our lives occupying our attention and time but not providing us with the rest and satisfaction Jesus fulfills. To ensure that we are not seeking satisfaction from any other source, we should assess what we are consuming. We can do this with the living and active word of God. Through the word, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, we can discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Not out of conviction but for contentment. To discover if we are more satisfied with our devices than we are in our Saviour.
Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
When a tv show is influencing us more than the word of God or our behaviour is being conformed to online trends rather than the life of Christ, we should ask ourselves of the content:
- Is this true? Is the information I am consuming true and aligned to biblical knowledge?
- Is it honourable? Does this content bring honour to God?
- Is this just?
- Is it pure? Does this content lead me to sinful patterns that are against God?
- Is this lovely? Is the content alluring me for the right reasons?
- Is this commendable? Would I recommend this to my friends, my pastor, spiritual leaders?
- Is there excellence in this content?
- Is there anything worthy of praise? Can I shout about the quality of this programme or how edifying it is?
We must pray that we do not become numb to the type of content we are consuming and the time we are spending on our devices. A momentary pause can reveal the true intention of the heart. Paul writes, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23). We need to know when to draw the line between enjoyment and purity. To know when programmes are entertaining but ultimately do not glorify God. We need to know when to disconnect.
This lockdown will be different. As we seek the things that are above (Colossians 3:1) and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we will see that in all things Christ is more than sufficient for us (Philippians 4:19).