*disclaimer- this post came out of a conversation from our last staff retreat- it is not aimed at anyone*
Do you remember in High School when everyone would work so hard to posture themselves to be seen in the best possible light? You would always want to be seen with the right people. You would always want to be on “the inside” and be a part of all the cool stuff happening.
At the heart of it we know this was an outworking of insecurity, desire for acceptance, and a need for approval. It looks much different today, but we are still doing the same thing. Have you ever asked yourself why you use Facebook the way you do?
I have noticed a couple things that sadden me. As a pastor I usually ask for people not to take pictures and put them online when we are hanging out. This is mainly for smaller hang outs, not birthday parties etc.
Why do I do this?
1) I have seen a tendency for people to use Facebook and “time with a pastor” as a chance to posture themselves and/or flaunt some type of status and position. It isn’t just with me and the other pastors though. People do the same thing with groups of friends, etc.
2) There are a lot of people who get their feelings hurt when they see people from their church or their groups of friends posting all these pictures of hanging out all the while they were not invited.
This has led to some hard conversations. Conversations that I think everyone should be aware of that will hopefully lead us to ask tough questions of our own hearts.
To the people in the first group the question must be asked, “Why do you feel the need to post every social outing online?” Everyone who is there already sees it and the only others who will see it are people who didn’t get invited.
To the people in the second group the question must be asked, “Why does it hurt you so much to not be invited every time you see people get together?”
Not always, but many times there is a sin issue at the bottom of those questions.
Let’s assume for the first group, for now, it isn’t a sin issue. For many people they simply enjoy putting their experiences online to go back and look at, so family can see, etc. Even if it isn’t a sin issue, if you know it hurts other people who are not there and didn’t get invited is it really worth still posting online?
Even if in your heart it is an innocent thing and there isn’t an underlying sin, what does it mean to love your neighbor in this situation? Is it loving to continue to do something that is going to cause hurt even if their hurt is based on their own sin they are working through?
“Should” people be so sensitive and easily offended, no. But we don’t live in a world as it should be, we live in the world that is. In this world, people’s feelings and insecurities create a perceived reality of being left out or unliked. It is loving and compassionate for us to be aware of this reality, while also challenging people to find their identity and security in Christ.
I think there are a couple verses that speak clearly to this:
Philippians 2:3-4- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Romans 15:1-2 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Loving our neighbors sometimes means not doing something that is perfectly fine to do in order to look out for their interests, to build them up, and to care more about their welfare than your freedom.
May all of us consider how we use social media and be sure that we are using it in a way that builds up and loves one another as we are called to do.