My attitude toward social media is often a good indicator of my spiritual and emotional health. If I open any of my social media accounts, see a notification, and have a sense of anxiety, I’m not in a good place. But if I can go for days not checking it and not wondering what is going on in the cyber world, I find it means I am healthier in the rest of my life.
Social media is a neutral entity that often turns bad, robbing its users of true human presence, humility, dignity, and kindness. For the pastor there is another thing it robs us of: peace.
Mind Your Meddling
There is great encouragement looking back to fifteenth century wisdom from some Dutch monks. “How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, who is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?” (The Imitation of Christ)
What social media provides for us is ample opportunity to meddle in affairs not our own, suffer strange distraction, and move away from inward reflection. If we hope for peace in our souls, emotions, and lives that leads to life, we must be disciplined in our use of social media.
I admit I often am not disciplined in this way and find myself unhealthily attached to social media not just physically (checking it incessantly), but also emotionally and spiritually. I don’t like discipline; it feels like law to me. One failing of my very gospel-centered theology is that I lean too much toward freedom. I would like to say “In-christ” but is something truly a freedom in Christ if it leads to death?
Freedom in Christ Comes with Discipline
Social media cannot be freedom in Christ if it leads to a shrinking of my soul and growth in my fears. So discipline must be a part of my freedom — freedom to say no, to put down my phone, to not check my pages, and to be free from something that often brings the opposite of peace to me.
Philippians 4:7 holds a promise for what I truly desire, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” But there is a predicating action that happens before we can have that peace:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:4-6
Too often I do not rejoice and I do not take my concerns to God. No wonder I am robbed of peace when I fill my life with social media rather than prayer and rejoicing.
Ingesting in Correct Quantity
When I went to the dentist growing up, the food pyramid was always plastered on the walls. What I should eat a lot of, a moderate amount of, and a little amount of to have healthy teeth and body is burned into my brain. What if we followed a “spiritual pyramid” where the base is rejoicing, fellowship, prayer, and mediation upon Christ and social media was the teeny tiny bit? What a return to peace that would be.