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Religion


Facebook and Jesus Part 3


By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted March 6, 2013
RELIGION – I must be honest, the timing of this series is full of irony. At the time I starting writing this series I was given an Iphone by one of the flat coolest ladies I know at Antioch. She can’t help she married an engineer, whom she may make cool yet! Anyways, never before has the world of social media been easier for me to attain. It literally stays next to my thigh all day long. When I first set my phone up, I had “push” notifications set and did not know it. These “push” notifications would beep anytime anything went on in the world of social media.

Every email, message, or status update, and the phone would beep and alert me. It was like a continual fire alarm in my pants pocket all day long (that sounds odd and maybe I should have chosen another metaphor, but anyways.) Thankfully, I found a way to cut them off. But to think that this was even an option and that there people, maybe some of you, who have this feature turned on and have checked it five times while reading the last paragraph is mind boggling. This week we are going to look at Facebook hypocrisy and the myth of continual happiness.

We said last week that Facebook is a world that we create to project an image that we desire. This has been the source of my Facebook personal reflection as I try to practice what I preach.  I have tried to scrutinize my use of facebook and what it reveals about me. I posted most frequently great quotes from books and sermons. I do this because a good quote is better than long article (it is, and I should just start writing two good sentences.) Anyways, my stated hope in my mind is to encourage others and I think the use of good quotes achieves this. But the deeper darker motive in my heart is to appear to be a smart and well read pastor (my wife assures that I am this.)

So we manipulate Facebook to project a certain image of ourselves to others. We also use Facebook to compare ourselves. How many “friends” do we have? How many people “have viewed our profile,” and who is our “top fan.”  How good do our vacation photos look? Did I show you the picture of my new car? This all just screams the cry of Solomon in Ecclesiastes “Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity!”

Now the end result of all attempts to measure ourselves by others is depression.  Again pulling from reading of Tim Chester’s book “Will you be my Facebook friend?” he quotes “Alex Jordan of Stanford University found people often feel depressed after spending time on Facebook…Facebook is geared to project positivity. You upload pictures of people having a good time, not pictures of you feeling bored or miserable. Even the jokey, early morning shots of people looking rough are really saying, ‘Look, at me after I’ve had a good time.” 

We look at and buy the projections of others. Their life may be a real mess, but their projection is of a life better than yours. So you feel second best.  You burn with envy or covetousness. And you shatter the 10th commandment in the process.
Tim Chester further adds “So the typical process the research revealed goes something like this: You are feeling miserable. You go onto Facebook. Everyone you know appears happy. So you feel like a loser. All the time you forget that somewhere someone else is looking at your upbeat, unreal Facebook page and feeling like they are missing out.”

We contribute to the misery of each as we perpetrate continual shallow happiness all in the name of getting likes and postivie self-projection. We wind up being like a bunch people with cancer sitting around and saying we are fine, while ignoring the big issues in our life that stands to kill us.
 
Furthermore, people can ‘Like’ something you have posted. The like button gives the person who is being “liked” a little high. The issue is that there is no option to “dislike” something. If you post “My grandmother died,” it is not appropriate to “like” that status (I have done that before, trying to communicate “I am with you” but instead appeared like a real jerk.) This means instead of the negative you would state the positive “Looking forward to seeing my grandmother in heaven.” This will get tons of likes. I have never tried it, both my grandmothers passed pre-Facebook, but you feel free to use it if your grandmother goes.

What is the problem with this? Tim Chester writes that “everyone’s Facebook face wears a smile – whatever the reality behind the mask. We are all spin doctors, presenting upbeat propaganda versions of our lives.”

Now you and I also know people who don’t post anything positive and instead bemoan how their life is so much harder than everyone else’s. You know, the cold they have could kill them, the boss they have is Hitler reincarnate, their children are the worst behaved, they are the most underappreciated, and on and on.

But the goal is the same as the positive posters above. They are ultimately fishing for compliments like the skinny girl in 9th grade who says to all the boys, “I am getting fat” just to hear how pretty she is from the guys. I tried this on my wife the other week and she just told me “Yep, do something about it!”

So here is where Jesus comes in. We are loved and accepted by Jesus warts and all!
The whole message of the Bible shows this. I mean there are no positive spins on the lives of the great Bible figures. Solomon does not get to post “I am a ladies’ man” he is shown as a dirty pervert who loved women more than God. David does not get to post “So sad over the death of Uriah the Hittite, glad I can comfort his wife Bathsheba.” He gets shown as murderous adulterer who ruins his and his family’s life. But these are men who God loved, forgave and still used.

So quit polishing up the mess in your life, stop complaining and looking for sympathy from an audience of people that largely don’t care, quit posting pictures of your food (I did not address this particularly, but it make me hungry and puts me in a bad mood!) You are loved by God in all your mess. Jesus died a death on the cross in your place so that He could by his life, death, and resurrection, give you open access to God. God does care about you, this is why Jesus said in Mat 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (29)  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

I’ll wrap up now, my phone is alerting me that someone just “liked” a picture of my son who lost his first tooth this past weekend!

Pastor Phillip


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