For a variety of reasons, none spiritual, I have been spending less time scrolling through social media. I didn’t have a profound epiphany that led me to throw my phone in some sort of impenetrable lock box or suddenly realize that my social media usage was hurting my family life (although that’s certainly a possibility).
I simply got busy with other things. Finding funny Drake memes to share or researching the origins of the phrase “dilly dilly” (which I still don’t understand) became less important.
This unintended hiatus of sorts has opened my eyes to something I didn’t see clearly before: most of the “important” Christian things that happen on social media are profoundly “meh”.
In other words, all the things that Christians on social media (myself often included) get worked up about are incredibly unimportant. All the huffing and puffing and foaming at the mouth that happens in long comment threads and blog posts is vanity and chasing after the wind (I’ve been hanging in Ecclesiastes lately).
Instead of devoting ourselves to good works and caring for those in our immediate locales (family, church, city, etc.), we end up expending energy on things that have almost no connection to our lives.
For example, Jared Wilson recently published a list of the top 125 people who have influenced the gospel-centered movement. It was an arbitrary list created by one guy. The list was arbitrary and didn’t contain any comments about the people on the list. It included guys who have gotten into trouble in recent years (Driscoll, Tchividjian, etc.), and certainly left people off who could have been included.
Again, it was ONE GUY’S opinion about who shaped the gospel-centered movement.
A whoooooollllllleeee lot of people didn’t like this list.
It didn’t include enough women. It was too Western-centric. It was too white, too Reformed, too patriarchal, too you name it.
As I read the list and comments, my primary reaction was, “Meh.” I don’t mean that in a disrespectful toward Jared (who is a friend) or any of the commenters. It just had zero relevance for my life, my family, and 99.9% of the people in my church.
The same goes for Rob Bell’s recent comments that Jesus would be horrified if he knew a religion had been created around him, which also created a bit of a kerfuffle among evangelical Christians.
The people in my life don’t pay attention to Rob Bell…
…they pay attention to what’s happening in their lives.
They pay attention to the recent pay cut that is going to put a massive strain on their finances. They pay attention to their daughter who is going through a period of serious rebellion. They pay attention to the fact that their marriage is falling apart.
I’m not saying that things happening online don’t matter. When influential people say and do things, it does occasionally touch those in my life. But 95% of the things happening online simply don’t matter to the people God has connected me to.
Here’s why this matters. The Christian life is intensely local. We are called to be with real people who have real struggles. We are called to bear burdens and weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
I’m called to be a faithful dad and husband. I’m called to provide for my family and teach my children what it means to follow the Lord.
If I find myself constantly engaged in online theological boxing matches, there’s a really good chance that I’m neglecting the weightier matters of life.
The odds are high that I’m disobeying 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12, which says:
But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Social media isn’t necessarily bad, but it has great potential to keep us from the truly valuable things that God has called us to do. It can pull us into battles that aren’t ours to fight and burdens that aren’t ours to carry.
When that happens, the things that are truly important are neglected and suffer.
I can afford to be “meh” about social media. I can’t bring that mentality to the tasks God has given me.