Sunday, September 9, 2012

Facebook or Faithbook?

As I wrestle with the idols in my life, I wonder how many times, during the difficulties we face, do we run to Facebook for the answers to our questions or the consolation for our pain.  How many times do we run to man for solutions, comfort, affirmation and truth?  As I search for answers, I also wonder if Facebook, or other social networks have, unknowingly become idols in our culture.

Idols give immediate gratification.  They give the desires of our flesh a false fulfillment.  The Free Dictionary defines an idol as "an image used as an object of worship or a false god."  Idolization is the "act of worshiping blindly and in excess."  We see many examples of idols in the Bible.  We also see how strongly God disliked those idols.  In modern culture, we relieve our consciences by assuring ourselves that we do not, in fact, have a golden cow in our living room and that we certainly do not bow down on our knees and worship one.
Today, idols are much more insidious than that.  As a culture, we are consumed with finding fulfillment in things, people, power, or money.  For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16)  God gives the gifts of good things; good food, beauty, leisure, comfort, good friends, wealth and so much more.  All are blessings from Him.  These are good things, but in our self-consumed culture, these good things become 'ultimate' things (as my preacher reminds us on Sundays,) and these ultimate things take the place of our Creator and only Redeemer.
The problem with idols is that we like our idols.  I don't want to admit that anything has taken the place of God.  I want to remain blind.  I defend my idols.  I want to keep my idols and God.  It is okay, because I still love God.  He wants me to be happy.  These are the lies I have believed.  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.  (Romans 1:25)  Justin Buzzard, lead pastor of Garden City Church in Silicon Valley said,  "I’m convinced that the reason there is so much shallow Christianity in our culture is because many people never displace the idolatry in their lives with Jesus, but instead simply bring in Jesus as an “add on” to their life, keeping their idolatry firmly in the center."
Idols are deceptive.  They are subtle and alluring.  Idols enslave and entrap.  A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare holds him fast.  (Job 18:9)  Idols often begin innocently.  If we enjoy the gifts God provides with the right heart, it is likely we will not become slaves to 'good' things or make them into idols.  Our hearts desire has to be for Jesus, first and foremost.
If we dissect 1 John 2:16, we can see how social networking might be a feeding ground for lust.  For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world.
  1. Lust of the flesh, or craving for physical pleasures:  It is no secret that many people now claim social networking as playing an important role in their extramarital affairs.  In this research, I discovered a site devoted to the stories of Facebook cheating.  What is particularly deceptive is that some people display only the prettiest of pictures; often pictures taken years earlier, twenty pounds lighter, no wrinkles and a head full of hair!
  2. Lust of the eyes, or wanting things we don’t have:  Viewing a social network everyday and fixing our eyes on others can lead to forgetting the blessings in our own lives.  This too is deceptive, because it is not necessarily what people have, but what some people may want you to believe they have.  We all want to present ourselves as polished, and with social networking, we can present whatever we want.  I know I don't share images of my not-so-lovely self in the morning, my huge pile of laundry or that ugliness that just welled up in my heart and caused me to lash out at my family.  I wouldn't want people to see the real me.  Since we are viewing the beautiful-ness on a computer page, we tend to think everyone else has great things and great lives. 
  3. Pride of life, or being proud of things we do have: We can have an unhealthy desire to be praised or viewed as successful due to things we have or have accomplished. We make an idol out of being viewed as wealthy, being praised for an accomplishment, praised for looks and even the praises for our children.  We want to be seen as intelligent, powerful, wealthy or to have others see how much we have. 

I am guilty of all three.  Posting your best pictures is not bad.  (Who takes pictures of 'ugly' anyway?)  Just be aware that others are posting their best, too.  Looks can be deceiving, as the saying goes.  I tell my children that there will always be people with more than you, and people with less than you.  It is all from God, so be grateful for what you have, fixing your eyes on your Creator, and the blessings He has given you.  I can look out my window right now and see the beautiful vintage, convertible my neighbor has.  I have to look past my large minivan to see it.  I also know the ache in her heart, because she lost her beloved husband in a tragic accident.  That lovely sports car was his, and is a sweet reminder of him (he collected and fixed up vintage sports cars.)  My big ol' minivan is a blessing to me to tote three of my biggest blessings.  God knows what each of us needs, and He provides accordingly.  It is fine to share with others when something wonderful has happened in your life; maybe you got a promotion, your child got an award at school or you got a new car for your thirtieth birthday. We want to share the great moments in our lives with those we love and care about.  The problem with all three of these is when they become unhealthy and all-consuming; when they are not viewed through the lens of Christ.
We have to be careful that Facebook, and other social networking, doesn't take the place of our beloved God and His 'Faithbook,' the Bible that gives the only true comfort, support, love and answers to the difficulties of life.
In 'Faithbook,' you have only one Friend.  This Friend loves you unconditionally, mercifully, and graciously.  In Him, there is truth.  Unlike other idols or man-made gods, our God in heaven will always love you, even at your absolute worst.  Go ahead and post those morning pictures of yourself with messy hair and no make-up.  Share that ugliness in your heart.  He will only see a beautiful child, whom he adores and loves so much.
Facebook is not a bad thing.  People use social networks for many great reasons.  Some use it to socialize.  Some use it to praise the Lord and share the gospel.  Others use it to connect with distant relatives or far away friends.  Small businesses use it to promote their companies.  Many companies use it to advertise.  I hope that the majority of people have a healthy viewing of Facebook.  I hope it has not become an idol in your life, as it once was in mine.  If you are unsure, consider these questions:
1. What do I think about or do most of the day?
2.  What is the first thing I do in the morning?  the last thing at night?
3.  What do I sacrifice in order to spend time social networking?
4.  What do I value the most?
5.  Where do I turn for comfort or affirmation?
6.  How often do I seek that consolation or affirmation from social networking?
7.  Can I deactivate my account for a week to see if it is a master in my life?
 My children, Pinterest, my blog, food, and shopping have been or have the potential to be idols (Rob is pouting that he didn't make the short list.)  All are 'good' things that I have, at some point, made 'ultimate' things.  I have had to look at each one and ask myself these questions.  God is dealing with both Rob and me and the idols we have made in our lives.  In His mercy, He is healing our hearts.

 Search your heart and ask God to reveal the idols in your life that are keeping you apart from Him.
Thank you for joining me with 'Life Lessons' on Sunday.   

Sources: Bible Money Matters; Crossway; Bible Gateway; The Free Dictionary; The Bible; The American Bible Challenge who coined the word "Faithbook."

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At The Picket Fence said...

Thank you for these truth-filled words Christie. :-) I often ask myself if I will "go to the throne before I go to the phone" because I tend to seek guidance/consolation/acceptance from everyone and everything else first before I go to God! I just love your honesty and so appreciate you sharing from your heart struck a chord with me and is giving me lots to pray about for my own life/heart. :-)
Blessings to you friend,

Allyson McGuire said...

Thank you so much for this post! I really struggle with social media distractions. You presented some really great questions...some that I'll definitely be wrestling with.

A Thrifted Market said...!! I have been convicted of this and appreciate your transparent heart and voice! Thank you!

A Thrifted Market said...

I would love to share this on my blog!

A Toile Tale said...

What a brave and thoughtful post! I'm experiencing a bit of a struggle right now about blogging. It has probably overtaken a lot of my "free time" that I could be using to do other things that would benefit others and my family much more. I ask myself if it has become a "guilty pleasure". Reading meaningful posts as this makes me feel a vindication and a deep appreciation.
Linda @ A Toile Tale

tawn said...

Christie, This is such a soul-searching post today. And I am ashamed to say but one of my first thoughts was "I need to post this on Facebook!" But I also thought of quite a few of my friends on FB and the frequencies of their posts. Could they use the questions you gave? Thank you for putting such a wonderful post here for us today.

tawn said...
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