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Much of our interaction with each other in 2018 happens through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and my new favorite platform, Marco Polo (*Snapchat for adults). We have become accustomed to relating to one another through technology.
An increasing number of our human touch points occur through commenting, liking or sharing someone else’s status. This type of social connection has become normal, and the amount of time people are spending on these platforms is constantly growing.
In light of the meteoric rise and popularity of social media, people are beginning to question the effects of social media use on our mental health and relational connections. In a recent article released by Fortune.com, “Two of Facebook’s in-house social scientists acknowledged in a blog post yesterday that passive consumption of content on the social network can harm users’ mood and mental health.” (http://fortune.com/2017/12/16/facebook-admits-social-media-can-harm-your-mental-health/)
Though this may be startling news for some it should not come as a surprise. In the famous Ted Talk by Robert Waldinger (if you haven’t seen it, it is worth the watch here), the director of Harvard Study of adult development shares three key factors to a life of happiness based on a 75 year study of over 700 men.
If you had to guess the three things that bring people the most happiness and fulfillment you might guess money, fame or success. However, this comprehensive and extensive study has found that the three most important things to happiness are close relationships, quality of relationships and stable, supportive marriages.
The deterioration of true friendships, family and human connection through social media is devastating as it is robbing our generation of true life and happiness. For instance, the irony of this post is that you are reading this article through a media platform. You cannot hear the tone of my voice, see the concern on my face or the angst in my heart when I think of how people are missing out on true connection with each other and with God.
But beyond affecting our mood, mental health and ultimately our connection with each other, I want to propose that perhaps the most significant danger of social media is the way that it can hinder a true connection with Jesus.
As we begin 2018, I know that many of you started the year by determining to have a deeper connection with God. For some, this looks like going to church more frequently, reading your Bible more consistently or strengthening your resolve to resist certain behaviors that you know distance your consciousness from God.
All of these things are great and can deepen your connection with Jesus and His people, but if we do not learn how to connect with the living person of Jesus Christ beyond “liking” certain Bible verses, “commenting” on your pastor’s last sermon or “sharing” something you learned at church, your experience with Christ will be limited and your joy and true happiness limited as well.
Jesus has made Himself available to you and to me. He wants to be known. He wants to be enjoyed and experienced. However, in order to experience Him, we must truly value Him. And we know that we have value for the person of Jesus because we will spend time with Him.
For instance, I love the sound of the violin. When I hear someone who is skilled in playing the violin I am enjoying the fruit of their labor. That person took many hours practicing, learning and playing to be able to create a beautiful sound out of the violin. The value that that person placed upon learning the violin produced the experience of a wonderful sound proceeding from the instrument. Compare that to someone who has no value for the violin and no desire or discipline required to learn how to play it. They will be unable to experience the beauty of the violin because they did not value it.
It is the same with Jesus. We can acknowledge with our lips that we value Him and His people. But if we do not take actual time and spend it with Him and His people, we will not experience the joy and ecstasy of truly knowing Him.
It’s time to put your phone away, close your computer, close your eyes and say this: “Jesus, I want to know YOU more.”
Images courtesy of Instagram