By Matthew C. Slemp
Status updates and friend requests have been the norm for the teenage culture since the launch of Facebook in 2004. Now, just over a decade later, the place to connect with people and community is online through social media.
On a consistent basis some new app is installed on the mobile devices of America’s teen population for communicating and connecting. Whether you tweet, use Instagram, or Snapchat, about the time adults figure it out students have a new social media platform. All of our social media technologies can be used for great purposes, including ministry and just good clean fun. Yet, they are downloaded and utilized based upon an empty promise – connection.
Our huge list of friends, booming photo galleries, and status updates all communicate that we are into connecting and on top of the world. But behind every Facebook wall, students are staring at their walls looking for significance, meaning, and real community. Does meaning and purpose even exist anymore?
Our online worlds create a false sense of normality and for many, sadly, an unfulfilled quest for significance and meaning. Before we go any further, you do know that what you see is not what you always get! Life looks a lot better in photos, status updates, and emojis. However, behind all of our profiles a real person exists and each is on a journey through life.
Each of us has a desire for some form of significance. We all want to matter and live a life with purpose. To do this, we must realize that significance is rooted in our relationship with Christ. Outside of Jesus, we cannot have true significance. In the world’s eyes, you can make it, but Mark 8:36 asks a probing question, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul?”
The hope given
Significance is found when we begin to grapple with our Creator and realize He sent His one and only Son to take our place on the cross, and through His shed blood provides us an escape from the penalty of our own sin.
Christ’s resurrection is what gives us the hope of new and eternal life! God told the prophet Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 1:5: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” How significant is that? Luke 12:7 says, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” The scripture is clear – we have a redeemer, creator, and life-sustainer.
The value of our worth is not what we post on social media for the world to see. Furthermore, it is not measured in comparison to others we see as we scroll through our timeline for hours to catch up with all of our Facebook friends. True significance is waking up every day and reminding yourself that you are someone Christ thought worthy of dying for. The unconditional love of God made the provision for you in that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Rom. 5:8).
We were created with purpose, design, skill, and gifts. Despite the wayward teaching of the age, you did not evolve or just come into being. God designed it all – the world and you. Realizing the intricacy of God’s masterpiece when He created you should provide encouragement and let you know you are worth something.
Finally, if God takes care of the birds, He is more than concerned for you and your life than you can imagine. He knows everything about you –the number of hairs on your head and the number of days you will be on the earth.
Trust me, God loves you and He is your sustainer in the midst of life’s journey.
Now, do not run immediately to your mobile device after reading this and delete all your social media accounts! I believe you can be godly and use social media. However, I encourage you to delete its consuming presence in your search for significance and learn to balance the time you spend utilizing it so you can remain useful in service to God and grow as a believer.
Ground yourself in who you are in Christ and never be distracted by the allurements of culture and the flash of technology.
Matthew C. Slemp serves as student minister at First Baptist Church, Atlanta.