For most of us, resistance is futile. If we want to see pictures of our cousins’ kids or our grandbabies, if we want to know what’s happening in the lives of our friends and family, if we want to keep (or get) a job or run a successful business, if we want to be effective in our ministries and outreaches — we have to go where the people are. Where the rest of the world is. We have to plug in to social media, whether we like it or not, whether we want to or not. Even if we have qualms about the narcissism and the voyeurism and other “isms” it seems to encourage or engender.
Of course there are a lot of blessings that can come with social media. But one of the downsides is that we can easily get drawn into a world where our sense of worth — our value, our significance — seems to be determined by the number of people who “like” us. Or like our posts or pins or tweets.
It can create in us such an insatiable appetite for others’ approval and affirmation and validation.
That’s not good for those of us who are Christians. Because the Scripture tells us that we can expect just the opposite!
If we’re living what we say we believe, if we’re truly following after Jesus with our whole hearts and walking in obedience to His Word, people won’t just “not like” us. They’ll actively hate us!
Jesus actually said, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
He later warned, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18-20)
It’s important to note that this persecution is not the same as people hating us because we’re hypocrites, hating us because we’re rude or unkind or lazy or selfish or inconsiderate. That’s being hated for our sins. Which we need to repent of and make right.
True persecution comes as a result of being faithful to God and His Word, refusing to sin against Him ourselves, standing for truth and righteousness — and not just on a few highly-charged and extremely controversial issues. But in all the different aspects of our lives, in all the different areas that the Scriptures address. Especially those that we ourselves struggle to take to heart.
Here are some verses we don’t quote nearly often enough — and in the right context:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called… Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:8-16)
Sometimes it’s scary stepping out in faith, taking a stand, declaring ourselves to be on the Lord’s side. It’s frightening when we feel God might be calling us to the front lines on a particular battlefield.
Here are the words of Jesus that are ringing in my heart right now:
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!” (John 12:27-28)
This life is not about being liked. It’s about glorifying Him — as St. Clement put it — in whatever way He asks us, whenever He asks, for as long as He asks, because He asks it.
In the meantime, we have this precious promise — again, the words of Jesus:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
This Week’s Assignment:
If you’re participating in Summer in the Son — our online study of the Gospel of John:
Read John Chs 15-16.
Memorize John 15:4.
If you get a chance, read Sarah Brooks’ blog post: A Word to Parents about Instagram. A must read for anyone who has children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or works with kids at school or church!
Todays Question: What are some things we can do to keep from getting drawn into the dark side of social media? What’s working for you?