As many of you may know, I decided to say, “so long” to social media for the year 2014. Thus far, I have fasted from all social media outlets for a total of 73 days. That is roughly 1,752 hours spent doing something other than scrolling through post after post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. At the same time, I decided to permanently delete my Snapchat account due to several arguments placed in an article that was shared with me this past December.
Today, I write only to inform you on what God has already revealed to me through this season of fasting. Here are three of the revelations I have seen:
1. We aim too low.
As human beings, everyone falls incredibly short of the glory of God. This is a trait that the apostle Paul reminds both Christians and non-Christians that we share in common.
Romans 3:23, “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
However, as social beings, we aim far too low. From time to time, I feel as if I am an outsider simply because I do not have a social media account. To be honest, I could not tell you when I created my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, but enough time has passed for me to be brought into a compromised state of forgetfulness. I forgot what how it felt to not pull out my phone in awkward or boring situations. Additionally, I forgot how it felt to ask people how their life was going rather than simply pulling up their online profile to find out for myself.
For as long as I have been forgetful, I have since begun to regain social skills that I unknowingly lost. Communication levels with even those closest to me have improved significantly. In addition, I met new people and have shared the Gospel with others more clearly and often than ever before. It was by spending time off of social media and instead focusing on people who led me to giving my neighbor a Bible this past week, simply because he believed it was an important book to have. Now, I pray for his soul to be saved by our almighty God.
This observation brought me to the conclusion that we simply aim too low, in this case, socially.
2. We like to boast.
If we are honest with ourselves, we know how much we love to boast. Seemingly, social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are primary areas for our boasts to land. If we were to take a show of hands as to how many of us post our worst, ugliest photos and thoughts publicly for the entire room to see, I would imagine few to none would be raised.
Allow me to open up my heart to you a bit. One of my biggest struggles and temptations while using social media has been pride. It always has been a deceitful desire of mine mainly because of the nature of social media. This is where I feel Christians fall far too short. Not only are we less social and more fearful to share the Gospel, but we also develop a pride and boast in ourselves that is far from worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
Where are the Christians that align their accounts with the apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians?
Philippians 1:27-30, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”
When we become obsessed with our social profiles, we become weaker in the midst of adversity. Our greatest struggles seemingly become cases like the lack of likes we get on a certain photo, the annoying entourage of posts from that one person who loves putting up ‘selfies’ of themselves, or the begrudging tweet or status update from your ex-friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend. We become narrow-minded people, and the issue with this is that God calls us only to be narrow-minded about him. In his Word, he tells us that the only thing we can be sure of is who God is, what God has done, and what God is about to do.
It was when I signed off from online that I began to realize how boastful I had become. There is a clear difference between thanking God for what he has given us and showing off what he has given us. While I am unsure of what Gospel many claim to behold, the Gospel that I read remains explicit about the only thing we can boast in, that is Christ:
Romans 3:25-31, “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
3. We have much potential.
Don’t get me wrong, the book of Romans will bring you to your knees if you let it. However, God loves us deep enough to not leave us there alone. This is demonstrated by what follows the initial verse as shared by the apostle Paul:
Romans 3:24, “and all (the Jew and the Gentile) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Though we all fall short, we all are made in the image of God, and therefore, experience his redemptive, loving-kindness. This is God’s grace on us. Remember, grace can only be grace when it is a gift. God gifted his grace to us through his son, Jesus Christ, on my cross and your cross.
If it is by his grace alone that we live, and it is, then it is by his grace alone that we have potential. While we sell ourselves short in scrambling for our phones, tablets, and computers to check for and/or post the latest updates, God made a way for us to still seek him in this technologically advanced generation. It is when we get the eyes of our minds and hearts out of our electronic buzzing devices that we will truly come face to face with God on this side of heaven. I say this because, by doing this, we are forced to interact with others. Whether it be people you know or may not know, we are ultimately brought into community with one another.
It is in the midst of community that we are able to grow. Do not be misinformed; my goal is not to diminish the blessing of being alone in the presence of the almighty God, but rather to draw us together into the open light of community. God intended human beings to be dependent creatures. Thus, he gave us his Word and the open communication lines of prayer to serve as the essential food and water to our spiritual bellies in this world. Though his Word and conversation are more than enough, he righteously calls us to be beings of faith, for God is faithful and calls us to reflect his glory. How else could we expect to live in the shadow of the King than by faith in his grace?
In essence, it is when we come together that we experience a deepening and maturing of this faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness. It may be by the strong Christian walk of another believer that encourages you towards God’s mercy. Or, it might be the struggling faith of a friend, or stranger, that empowers you to believe in God’s righteousness. The point is, God gave us the gift of community to have a better sense of his grace towards us.
However, my desire is that you would affirm this for yourself by aligning my words with the word of God. I pray that you see how the Gospel explodes with the importance of community:
Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Matthew 5:13-16, ““You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
The past 73 days have been some of the most rewarding days of my life. Why? I believe it has more to do with my heightened sense of community than my increase in spiritual discipline. This season of fasting has ultimately taught me three lessons. Though none of these were new to me, I have learned to experience the Holy Spirit more intimately in these three ways:
1. Be a man of my word, but better yet of God’s Word.
2. There is no faith in a man who is not faithfully rooted in prayer.
3. Without community, all I have is myself, and that is a sad place to be.
I believe King Solomon made it clear when he wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes about the significance of community.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
When I am rooted in the first two lessons, the third will explode. These past 73 days have been full of explosions. Oh, how I pray for God to wreck me in the remaining 292 days of this season of fasting.
God Almighty, you are too good to us. We are undeserving of your constant grace, your saving redemption, and your loving mercy. Your Word teaches us to be men of our word in community with one another, but ultimately to be men of your Word. Teach us to walk in the light of your path. I pray that our days would be exceedingly numbered by the moments we spend inside your will rather than outside it. Though short, they are blessed. Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Finally, teach us to ultimately pursue you above all things. Jesus, you are better than this world has to offer.
We love you, God of all tongues, peoples, and nations.