If your mind is ruled by that which you put into it – are you feeding your mind with the truth of the Gospel of the glory of the Blessed God? Or are you numbing your heart to the good things of God on social media?
A recent study done between 63 million Twitter users show more users are getting more depressed the more they use the platform. On Monday, users seem more unhappy. Their happiness spikes during the holidays. The general movement of emotions seems pretty expected: as the day goes on, people become less and less happy.
But can the platform increase unhappiness? One thing Twitter is known for is that it can be a real garbage fire of anger, fighting, and general jerkishness. (All technical terms, trust me.) Fighting is common, abusive language is on the rise (especially toward women), and it’s all easily captured in 140 characters.
Even Facebook is making people more depressed. Seeing friends having fun, seeing weddings and relationship announcements, seeing vacations, and all of the highlights of someone else’s life makes our lives seem a bit worse, doesn’t it? I’ll admit that I’ve fallen into the trap. And, hey – we all know that it’s not about what we see on Facebook, because that’s easily curated into painting a far better picture of our lives. It’s easy to make our lives seem better when there’s literally an edit button.
But that’s not the solution. The solution is, and always will be, the gospel.
Only the good news of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, his fulfillment of the mission of Israel, the Spirit’s work to cleanse us and make us look more like Christ, the Father’s glorious plan to fix the world according to his plan, can root out the sin from our hearts. Hear this: that jealousy, that depression, that anger, that apathy caused by social media is sin. It’s a sin for me as much as it’s a sin for others. There’s no avoiding that fact.
When we grow depressed because of our social media addictions, or go to social media because of our depression, we are only indulging in our sins. Instead, we need to find a way to speak the Gospel of the Trinitarian God to ourselves. So, instead of turning to social media, we can remind ourselves:
1. Despite our situation, whether good or bad, it has not separated us from the love of God. (Romans 8:28ff) When we are tempted to despair our life choices, or tempted to envy a friend because of a wedding, or a cool trip, we’re tempted to think that we are missing out on the best things in life. In reality, these trips, weddings, photos with friends, don’t reveal the fullness of life. God’s love toward us is constant, whether or not we have those things. Envious because a friend is in Hawai’i? That can’t change the fact that Christ became poor for our sakes, took on the form of a servant, and died to carry our burdens. Those weddings may bring temporary happiness, leading me into my second point.
2. Those vacations look good – but all the joy we need is at the right hand of God (Psalm 16:11). David wrote this poem, maybe despairing of a current situation. He seeks refuge, reminding himself that he has no good apart from God. Later, he says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” We don’t need to go anywhere, do anything cool, or get the right picture to have joy. Those things can’t be found anywhere else – instead, the joy we seek is the Person of Christ, the Incarnate Logos.
3. Whether or not we believe this now, the Spirit is going to change us (Romans 6-7). It may seem too hard to buy all of this now. The despair caused by, or driving us to, social media may seem like too much. It may seem like our hearts will never be changed toward Christ. Thank God that God is more concerned with our heart change than we are! He is faithful to continue the work of sanctification in us and he will draw us closer to Christ. As we behold God in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, we are changed from glory to glory. If you are in the Spirit, you cannot and will not remain static. You will change, and your heart will be drawn toward Christ.
In this, maybe we can stop letting our minds be twisted by social media, conformed to this world, and we will be better able to lift up our lives as living sacrifices.