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Religion


Facebook and Jesus Part 2


By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted February 27, 2013
RELIGION – I have always been amused by Beauty Pageants. These pageants are designed to measure the objective beauty of a female. The subjection of oneself to the scrutiny of judges has always struck me as harsh, as I don’t handle rejection very well. And another thing that has always been interesting to me, having known a few beauty queens, is that there was a profound difference in how they looked on a Tuesday afternoon after gym class then how they looked all made up on the stage.In some cases, the makeup, dresses, and pulling and pushing of parts could turn below average gals into real lookers.

The more I have thought about Facebook, the more I have come to realize that for many of us who use it, myself included, that it is simply a beauty pageant of life. Think about it, Tim Chester writes “Think about the name ‘Facebook’. It suggests a place where I can show my ‘face’ or my ‘image’.” The face and image that we show, is one that we chose. It is the face that we want the world to see. The face that we show may be very different from the actual reality in our lives. Showing one face while really being someone else is the very definition of hypocrisy.

Think about the pictures that you upload pictures that show your life as good as it can be. Facebook gives you fifteen minutes of fame. I am not going to lie that when I upload a picture of me and my boys boxing, and then I receive 24 “likes” and three comments of “your sons are so cute,” and “your sons are handsome just like their dad.” (OK that last is a lie, my boys are cute but they look just like their mom.) But those “likes” reaffirm to me that I have an audience and they like me. Or they like the version of me that I chose to present. Just in writing that I feel like an insecure, weak, needy little man. Now I don’t think that way in my mind at all, but deep down all those “likes” and comments fuel an insecutiry and innate desire for the love and approval of others.  I bet you if you are honest with yourself, I am not the only attention crazed person out there (but I am the only one with an audience of readers, who can’t wait for Wednesday mornings to see what witty Biblical wisdom I can dispense, man there comes the little loser inside of me coming out again!)

In my reading I found “An Australian study entitled ‘Who Uses Facebook?’ found a significant correlation between the use of Facebook and narcissism. ‘Facebook users have higher levels of total narcissism, exhibitionism, and leadership than Facebook nonusers’, the study reported. ‘In fact, it could be argued that Facebook specifically gratifies the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self-promoting and superficial behavior (Tim Chester citing Stephen Marche, ‘Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?’, The Atlantic, May 2012)

So what is the problem in feeding a weak ego with a splash of approval from others? For me personally, it fuels a desire to be approved by people that I have had sense I was a child. I live for “that a boys.” But my worth as a man, husbands, and father, can’t be built on that. The approval of others may feel good, but like any drug, it can be addictive and destructive.

Tim Chester writes about the danger of this “I am defined by other people’s ‘gaze’, what they make of my ‘face’. The Bible calls this ‘the fear of man’. Our overriding concern should be what God thinks of me. But instead my concern is what other users of social media think of me. It is their approval that matters. In contrast, Paul says: ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ’ (Gal. 1:10). ‘I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me’ (1 Cor. 4:3,4). It is hard to imagine the man who wrote these words worrying too much whether his Facebook comments had received ‘Likes’ or how many Twitter followers he had! What mattered to him was the approval of God.”

Think and be honest, how many times a day do you check Facebook or twitter or instagram? Now how many times a day do you pray? I’ll give you three times for meals, one time for passing a cop speeding, one time for finding a good parking spot downtown when court is in session, and once at your devotion. So maybe six times a day, for a combined total for probably less than ten minutes. Now which is more, your number of times in prayer, or the amount of time you spend on Facebook? This answer is uncomfortable right?  The deal is that apart from knowing who we are in Christ, we are all little, needy people with small fragile egos who live for the approval of others. This is even true for the person who boldly says “I don’t care what anybody thinks of me.” They usually care the most.

Tim Chester reminds us that “The gospel of Jesus says that Jesus recreates me in the image of God, and Jesus is recreating the world. God’s kingdom is extended as his Word is proclaimed.

·    Jesus recreates me – I’m not a self-made person.
·    Jesus recreates me in God’s image – it’s not about my image.
·    Jesus recreates the world – I’m not the savior. Jesus recreates God’s world – it’s not my world.
·    Jesus creates God’s world with God at the center – not me at the center.
·    Jesus creates and recreates through God’s word – not through my words.

It is these truths that enable me to be truly human, fit for the purpose for which I was created. And this is what liberates me from self-obsession to enjoy the goodness and grace of God. Knowing the real God is better than Facebook.”

So be honest with yourself and your social media consumption. We will look more at social media hypocrisy and continual happiness next week. I am still working on getting a “like” feature added to my articles, just kidding, let’s all stop being needy little people and instead be fulfilled and completed followers of Jesus! 

Pastor Phillip



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