Excerpts from '#2 Restoring Intimacy' in #struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel:
It's important to consider not just what Jesus said but even what he didn't say (John 13:34-35). Notice he said that "everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Jesus didn't say "everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have perfect theology." Certainly good theology is important, but it's not how the world will be able to see that we follow Christ.
Jesus didn't say "everyone will know that you are my disciples if you attend church regularly." Does that mean we don't need to go to church? Of course not! We're supposed to spend time together to encourage each other in the things of God (Heb. 10:24-25). But going to church isn't what shows the world that we follow Jesus either.
The way they will know we are his disciples - according to Jesus - is how we love one another. He set the example for us himself by washing his disciples' feet, an act of absolute humility. We should treat one another in ways that show that the sacrificial love of Jesus lives inside our hearts. That's how the world will know that we are his disciples.
And that's how we will know if technology is in its proper place in our lives: by how well we love one another. It's hard to wash someone's feet with a phone in your hand.
So be honest with yourself as you listen for God's voice. Are you sending emails when phone calls would be more meaningful? Are you typing a quick text when a personal visit would deeply impact a loved one? Have you intentionally neglected to use your gifts to serve others because you are hoping others' Likes will serve your need to be noticed? When was the last time you actually snail-mailed a handwritten birthday card or thank-you note instead of simply texting because it was easier?
Jesus has something better for us. Maybe it's time to put down the device and pick up a towel to serve.
NICE TO MEET YOU
I can't speak for you, but to be really honest, I have to admit that the more I dabble on social media, the more I realize I'm delaying the personal interaction I crave. I have also never been more connected and yet felt so alone.
The author of Hebrews wrote, "And let us not neglect commenting on one another's posts." Oh, wait, wait... I'm sorry. I totally messed that up.
No! He writes, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another" (Heb. 10:25 NLT).
Really let that sink in: "Let us not neglect our meeting together."
"Let us not neglect our meeting together."
"Let us not neglect our meeting together."
Have we fallen out of this practice?
Actually get together with people. Be physically present with one another. Not digitally. Not virtually. Not just in a group text, but in the same living room. Make the time to love people face to face, not just keyboard to keyboard. If you want to get really crazy, don't set a time limit on how long you'll hang out or what you'll discuss. In other words, just be with someone (not in the biblical sense, well, not unless you're married.)
You know that device you use to text with? It might be hard to remember, but what's something else you can do with that device? That's right! You can actually talk on that thing. It's a lot harder, but maybe you could scroll through your contacts, find that person, tap their number, and call them on the phone.
As they answer, you will actually be able to listen to what they're saying. You can hear the words and listen to the tone in their voice, which will also be communicating something. You might even ask if you can pray with your friend, right there over the phone. Then based on what they tell you, you can ask them a few more questions. I can promise you that a person-to-person conversation can go to amazing places that texting back and forth will not go.
What's another way you can show love? You can actually go see them. Just sit down with your friend, face to face. Ask a few questions, and then just listen. If it seems appropriate, maybe put your hand on their shoulder. Maybe even hold hands across the table and pray with them.
Presence is powerful.
Be emotionally engaged too. Don't just be present; be all there.
Engage deeply. Go all in. Make sure that the person you're with is the most important person in the world when you're together.
We've either seen, or if we're honest, we'll admit we've been, that family in the restaurant with each member glued to their phone or tablet - texting, gaming, emailing, surfing, whatever. We're losing the ability to relate to one another in natural ways.
We've become so used to interrupting normal, healthy communication with other activities and human beings that we somehow think this is okay. We're face-to-face with someone who matters to us, but instead of being with them the entire time, we're somewhere else virtually, digitally, electronically.
We're present, but we're not there.
Don't assume that I just don't understand or appreciate our world of tech. Hey, I have a smart phone too. And I'm just like you. Every time it buzzes, whistles, chirps, beeps, or dings, something in me can't help wondering, "Oooh. What was that? I wonder if it's something important. Who sent me something? I must know this instant."
Have you heard of FOMO? It's a thing. I read recently that FOMO was added to the latest edition of a popular English-language dictionary. FOMO is an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. It was coined for an entire generation of people who are constantly worried they're going to miss something.
Ask yourself this question: at the end of your life, is it really going to matter how many Likes you got? Do you honestly believe you're going to be lying on your deathbed one day thinking to yourself, "If I had gotten just three more Likes on that picture I posted of that weird tomato back in '15, I would have made an even hundred. One hundred Likes. Triple-digit Likes. Ooh, life would have been so good. #ICanDieHappy #RIPme."
Life is not about how many Likes you get. It is all about how much love you show. The only way people will know that you are a follower of Jesus is by how well you love people.
Instead of FOMO online, what you really should be afraid of is missing out on the people in front of you. You may be missing out on your children growing up. You may be missing out on enjoying an intimate marriage. You may be missing out on deep friendships filled with meaning. Is your fear that you're going to miss out on something causing you to miss out on what matters most?
Don't just pray for people. Pray with them.
Don't just Like what they post. Like who they are.
Get involved in one another's lives.
Others won't know you by your Likes.
They will know you by his love.
Excerpts from other chapters in the book:Chapter 1 - Recovering Contentment