January 19, 2014
Designed to keep us connected and grow community, social media has grown at a staggering rate in just the past few years. But is it always a good thing to be so connected? Does social media actually cause us to lose focus of what life is really about?
In this message, Pastor Ed Young unpacks the power, potential and even the possible pitfalls of social media in our lives. From God’s perspective, he shows us how social media can either be a tool, or a tail. And he reveals the amazing potential it has to bring us closer together…and closer to God.
ILLUS: A few days ago I took a tour of a new house and it was absolutely gorgeous, and the way it was decorated was really unique. I couldn’t help as I walked through this house to see all the different mirrors they’d used. They used mirrors in creative ways, different styles of mirrors. Some looked old, some looked brand new, some were contemporary, some were traditional, and then I looked over at this person’s office and I saw a computer. Then I saw an iPhone. Then I saw an iPad. And I thought to myself, you know the mirrors are pretty awesome, but the real mirror is the technology.
Technology is the most pristine mirror that I can think about in today’s culture. It displays our depravity. It also reflects our righteousness. It shows who we are and who we want to be. It shows the perceptions of our lives. It also shows the imperfections of who we are. Technology is a reflector because man is the director of it. You follow somebody, you read what someone posts, the pictures that are out there. Look at someone’s profile and you can tell a lot about people. Isn’t that true? I think we would all say, “You know, Ed, I have a love/hate relationship with social media.” We love it and we loathe it.
A friend of mine who works in the industry says it’s like technology works just enough to keep us coming back. Social media use has increased 356% since 2006. Eighty-three percent of people say that platforms like Twitter and Facebook have built new friends and relationships for them. One billion photographs have been taken on Instagram. Now that’s hard to wrap our pea-brains around but that’s crazy! We’re on this rocket ship. We’re on this flight, as I talked about last week. We’re strapped to technology.
Technology is a mirror. It reflects the external and the internal. I think it’s true that when we look in a mirror, and all of us we look pretty good. All of us have looked in a mirror today, right? Oh, yeah, you shake your head. All of us have looked in the mirror but just for a second I want us to look into the mirror of social media, the mirror of technology. Just think about this for a second.
First of all I think when we look into the mirror of technology we look at our eyes. We’ve got an eye problem. Technology. I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. Technology is so often about pride. You can’t say pride – say pride with me – pride, without saying I. When I have pride, when I’m on the ego trip. Three things happen. #1, it’s about elevation. I elevate myself above God. I get out of position in my life. #2, I humiliate others by what I say, by what I post. So often on social media I’m saying, “I’m here, you’re not. This is me – this is you. I eat at this restaurant, you’re eating barbeque somewhere. I am at the South of France, you’re somewhere in Midlothian. Me – you.” And then not only does it elevate and humiliate, it also suffocates what God wants to do in our lives.
The Bible says in the book of Proverbs 14:30, “A heart at peace gives life to the body.” Isn’t that great? When we have peace with God we have the peace of God. It gives me life, real life, a zest and a zeal for living. “But envy rots the bones.”
Envy. Envy. I can cause envy in your life and my life by what I put on social media. <drumming!> hahahaha1 Or I look at what you’re saying, at the pictures, at your profile, and I get <drumming> envious. What is envy? I want what you got. I want your house, your spouse, your car, your position, your followers, your stuff. Envy.
The first book I ever wrote was called Fatal Distractions. It’s one of my favorites. On the seven deadly sins. And we’ll talk about the seven deadly sins in just a second. Envy is unique. As I said last time, pride is the forerunner of all sins. Whenever you talk about any sin, pride is the precursor of it. The other sins, though, start out fun. Have you ever thought about that? Envy starts out U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly. And it ends U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly. The other sins start out with some promise. Like anger.
ILLUS: A couple of days ago I got angry at somebody. Not here at this church, a guy I’ve known for a long time. I just got angry. And it felt good. I’ve got a loud voice, I like to speak and I was able to speak over him and get angry. And most of the stuff I said was right. Some people think, “Well, as a Christian you should never get angry.” That’s not true. God gets angry. The Bible says be angry and don’t sin. But one thing I said to him I shouldn’t have said. And I apologized for it. I said, “Hey, I take responsibility for that.” No I didn’t say that! That’s a pseudo apology. That’s not an apology. “I take responsibility for my actions.” Duh. Stupid. What about this one: I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. In other words, you’re an emotional basket case. I didn’t say that either. I said,
“Hey, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
“Yes, I will.” Then I said,
“But hey, I’m not apologizing for all the other stuff I said, because I’m right.” But anger is fun. I enjoyed it. But at the end I look back and I’m like, oh I shouldn’t have said that one thing. But anger starts off fun, it ends kinda bad, if it’s wrong.
How about lust? Oh lust starts off with some promise. Whoa. Hello! Jogging down the Katy Trail… Girrrrl! Oh, girl. Look at him! It starts off with some promise. It has its kicks, but the kickbacks are lethal! Envy starts out, I will say it again, U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly! And it ends U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly. David, had just made Goliath tap out. He was fighting a battle that King Saul, Psycho Saul, prideful Saul, narcissistic Saul should have fought. David comes back to J-town, Jerusalem. Everybody’s cheering. “Saul has killed his thousands, David his tens of thousands!” And the Bible says Saul looked at David with (get up close) and eye of envy.
You can post something, I can post something, and I have that eye of envy. I want what you got. And because Saul could not control his envy, his anger, his pride, what happened? His life is a tragedy, a tragedy of what might have been. Here’s the bottom line. Don’t compare yourself with others.
In 2 Corinthians 10:12, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves to some who commend themselves when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves they are not wise.”
Here’s my translation: It’s unfair to compare. When I compare myself with you I’m making a mockery of God’s creative genius. And if we’re not careful social me-dia (and I have a hard time with me) social me-dia can lend itself to this narcissistic, prideful, envious behavior. Do you have an eye problem? Edit your Tweets. Check out the personal pronouns you use when you’re in conversation. I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. I, I, I, me, me, me, me, ME, ME! I’m here, you’re there. I’m traveling over there, you’re not. I’m eating this, you’re not. I’m driving that, you’re not.
ILLUS: Someone told me very insightful the other day about social media. This guy that I know posted this photo in a little post on Instagram that showed him around all of these cool sports cars. He said, “Look where I am!” around all these cars. And there’s Bentleys and Lamborghinis and Maseratis. And my friend goes,
“What’s up with that? Look where I am.” Again, it sounds benign. “I’m with the Maserati and Lamborghini crowd. I, you’re not. And my friend said wisely,
“This would have been a better post had he said, ‘Look at all these cool cars!’” See the difference? Pride, man, it’ll mess you up. You gotta eye problem.
Maybe you look into the mirror of technology and you’ve got an ear problem. Maybe you’ve grown rabbit ears. Always worshipping other people’s opinions. You post something…. I have a hard time using my thumbs. Man these young people, they can just burn it. My daughter, smoke comes out of the smart phone with her thumbs. She can close her eyes and I can say supercalifragilistic… and she <bbrrrrrrrbbb!> Opinion worship. I post something. Oh the comments, the likes, the re-Tweets. How about the re-Tweets, the likes, the comments. Wow I can see it in seconds. What do you think about me? That picture. Me. Me. Me. And we so worship what people say that we miss the voice of God. We’re so busy, we’re so busy behind the glowing screens, we’re so busy clicking, we’re so busy swiping, we forget to listen to the voice of God and we forget to listen to others who give us those secondary props about the Lord Himself.
Maybe you’ve got a stomach problem when you look into the mirror. Am I the only one that now and then looks at my stomach in the mirror. OK, yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Six-pack, four-pack, no, just the one big ole jug, 19 liters. Stomach.
I read this week something very disturbing. This is gross. You might have seen it on the news. The average smart phone has 18 times more germs than a toilet seat in a public restroom. Did you see that? Google it later and then … you know.
Could it be that we have a case of technorrhea? I’m holding it in, I’m holding it in, I’m holding it in, oh I’ve just gotta let it out! I’ve got to explode on social media. I’ve got to get my opinion, I’ve gotta Tweet, I’ve gotta post, I’ve got… we can’t shut up. I can’t shut up. We have this governor that keeps us from bloating out ridiculous things in social settings. Like, “That outfit is horrendous. What were you thinking when you…”
I would never say that. Or, “Your breath is absolutely horrible!” We don’t say that. Go over to someone’s house, “This food is sickening.” No! We go like, I’d never say that! That’s rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.
But, what’s your name, man? (Cody: Cody.) All right, Cody. You know what I’m gonna do? I am going to, because social media is private, I’m gonna create a web site. IHateCody.com. and I’m gonna put all these comments and… who would do that? Who would do such a thing? FSUBowler#12. It’s anonymous. It’s secretive. Your outfit is horrible! Food is terrible. Your breath makes me sick. The toilet of humanity is on any comments section online. If you like watercoloring, if you like decorating, if you like bow-hunting, if you like fashion, if you like collecting toothbrushes, you look at the comments section, I’m telling you it’s the toilet of humanity. You don’t have to say it. I don’t have to say it. You don’t have to spray it. I don’t have to spray it. You don’t have to post it. You don’t have to boast it. You don’t have to Twitter. You don’t have to litter. You don’t have to Instagram. You don’t have to Instasham. You don’t. I don’t. We’ve got to edit this stuff!
I can also have a back problem, Cody, a back problem. You know what a back problem is? Whenever I go online and let’s say I have this website, “ihatecody.com” OK, whenever I go online, Cody, I am exposing myself to spineless jellyfish. A jellyfish floats around on the currents, sting the absolute fool out of you. People are spineless, no backbone, hide behind FSUBowler#12, right? They’ll mess you up. Ties into pride, in to envy, we’re hurt, we’re damage. We grow rabbit ears and we miss the greatness of God.
How about a head problem. Ever look at yo head in the mirror? I do, man. I know. I got a bucket-head. I got a hamburger head, a watermelon head. It’s a giant head. I have a hard time finding a hat because my head. My head problem. Ever watch Sports Center? Sports Center, highlight reel living at its best. Slam dunks, grand slams, a birdie, some incredible hat trick on the ice. Whoa! Wow! Ahh! Sports reel, Sports Center living! Social media so often is not real. It’s Fantasy Five. It just shows brief highlights. Sports Center does not show the work and the sweat and the angst and the pressure and all the stuff behind. It just shows the little brief glimpse of this person’s life. There’s always a back-story, a story behind the story.
Also we have a mouth problem when we look into the mirror of technology. How we say what we say is as important as what we say. How we say what we say is as important as what we say. How are you saying what you say? How? Because that’s as important as what you say. How are you crafting that sentence? That comment? That word on ihatecody.com. How? (I don’t, Cody, I love you. I’m just kinda joking around here.) How do you do that?
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, this is so classic. “When I was a child (I mean do we have a lot of immaturity or what?) I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
I would argue if we’re not careful, if we’re not wise as <hissing> and harmless as <coo-ing> – wise as serpents, harmless as doves that’s what Jesus said – it can perpetuate immaturity.
I talk to people today, they just can’t carry on a conversation. Just… and after a while they’ll look down. They can’t engage. They can’t speak. They can’t question. They’re not teachable. They’re not flexible. It’s just like, what? Little baby, little babies. It’s all about me, me. Little babies. It’s all about me, it’s about me and me, and my world and me and then as you become older you realize it’s not about me. Could it be that technology perpetuates this narcissistic, me-istic, prideful ego trip? It’s about God! We submit ourselves to God we’re in the right position! Then we begin to serve others as he does. And we serve in the church and then we understand what this life is all about.
T.S. So, let’s get a little more detailed. I mean we’ve seen the problem. Eye problem, ear problem, stomach problem, back problem, head problem, mouth problem, we got some problems.
Let’s now look a little bit deeper into technology and let’s look at something that I call a sin-ventory. Because we have to take a sin-ventory and then we need to do a win-ventory. What’s the sin? OK, the sin is missing the mark. It’s doing what we want to do. It starts with pride, the precursor of all sin. However, we need to leverage technology and use it for greatness. It can become, as I said over and over, either a tool or a tale, a tale or a tool. How do we use it? How do we go through it? How do we go deeper into this mirror? Well look at the side screens.
Pride, all right? Think about the ride of pride, your ride of pride, my ride of pride, whenever you engage, whenever I engage in social media. Compare that (that’s the sin) to the opposite, the virtue, humility. Humility is giving God the glory he deserves. It’s saying, God, you’re God, I’m not. You ever played a sport where you were out of position? It’s very uncomfortable. It doesn’t work very well. I’m out of position when I try to elevate, humiliate, and suffocate God. Yet when I’m in the right position (God, you’re God), when I submit myself totally to him, that’s when I understand humility. Humility is not weakness, it’s strength. We think pride is strength, it’s really weakness. humility is where it’s all about and what it’s all about.
Here’s another one. Envy. I want what you got, right? The eye of envy. There are certain people you should not follow, there are certain things you should not look at because it revs up those engines of envy. And are you causing, am I causing envy? Something to think about. Well instead of that, how about the antithesis, the win! Admiration! Hey, you’re blessed, good for you! You’re blessed, good for you! You got that promotion, good for you! That’s awesome! Because if we have this life of envy here’s what happens. We begin to get so worried about other people’s opinions, accomplishments, where they’re traveling, the restaurants they’re frequenting, that we miss running our race in our own lane. Stay in your lane and don’t worry about the other lanes. Because the other lanes will drive you flat-out insane.
Anger – anger. There’s a Godly anger. We should get angry over the things that God gets angry about. Yet there is so much hot, molten lava that’s spewed online. The anger is stunning. Instead of getting angry let’s think about it! Just because you’re online you’ve got to realize that there’s someone else staring into a glowing screen! Don’t communicate anything emotional on social media. Let me say it again. Don’t communicate anything emotional on social media. Say it with me. Don’t communicate anything emotional on social media.
You know one of the new things with those who are newly married, 20-somethigns and 30-somethings, is to argue through texts. You’ve got husbands and wives – you talk about cra-cray – arguing, I mean going after it through texts!
“I’m goin’ off the rails on that crazy train!” Ozzy Osborne. OK. Anger, what’s the other one? Composure. What keeps you from acting cra-cray when you see someone face to face? Composure. That governor. Well you better have it online.
Let’s have another one. Slothfulness. What is slothfulness? A sloth is a tree-dwelling creature that just hangs upside down and does nothing.
“Man, I play my Xbox like five hours a day. I’m on Facebook for hours and hours and hours. It’s awesome. I’m just ….” And it can waste your time and waste your life. People say social media saves time! Yeah but it wastes time. Social media! It gives me more time with my family! It invades my family. Oh it’s always about, it’s about communication. I made new friends. Well man, you’ve not talked to someone face-to-face in a couple of years. And speaking of that, I talk to some young people and they’ve not been outside in like five years. And I watched one of them walk outside,
“Wow! There’s the sky! Clouds! Dirt on the ground, man. This is heavy.” <laughter> Yeah. So instead of slothfulness, diligence. Diligence. Diligence.
One expert said that the goal of technology is to replace the natural world. I kinda believe that. It’s not like technology is conspiring to take over the world, I’m not saying that, this guy wasn’t saying that. But he said, “Think about it. It’s replacing the natural world.” We’ve forgotten how to look at someone in the eye. We’ve forgotten how to confront someone and have hard conversations one-on-one. We’d rather e-mail it. We’d rather text it. We’ve forgotten how to walk outside in nature, just to look around and throw down our smart phone. Keep that in our house or apartment and just be detached, unplugged, not online. We’ve forgotten how to be alone. So diligence. We need to be diligent about time spent online and time spent with others. We have to be diligent.
We have to be diligent about spending time with God. Let me just talk about diligence for a second. Diligence in our work. I don’t always feel like showing up here and preaching. Sometimes I just show up. Maybe the most diligent thing you can do is just show up. “I don’t feel like being married.” Just show up. There’s something strong about just showing up. “I don’t feel it.” Just be diligent, be diligent about what God wants you to do.
Another one is greed, greed, oh you talk about greed. Man, I’m telling you, technology. “I shop… oh I can shop. I can buy this and this is on sale and I can negotiate with this and I can get in this bidding war and I can put…” Greed. Instead of greedy, how about giving? God is about giving. He’s about generosity. And we utilize technology here. We make it easy for all of us to give online, to give using technology, and we use technology to take this message all over the place. And we use technology to infiltrate churches, 5,000 of them, with our children’s curriculum. We use technology to help our orphanages in Haiti and we help with Guatemala and all the other. We LOVE technology! But we’ve got to have a balance and it should be something that we’re giving. Because there are two types of people online. I read this in the classic book, “iDisorder” They’re the me-formers (it’s all about me, it’s all about me, me, me, me, me, yeah, me, me, me!) and there are the informers. I want to be an informer. We’re sharing, we’re helping, we’re serving.
Gluttony is another one, gluttony. This is just too much of something. Some of us have OD’d on technology. We need self-control.
Then of course, lust. I will talk more about gluttony and lust next week. Lust, as opposed to lust, how about purity? Do you realize most of the innovations of technology are fueled by pornography? It’s unreal. But it’s the best of both worlds to those of us living in sin. We can go online and we can use human beings, and we make human beings into animals. They become just bodies and parts, and after our sexual hit we go to the next image, the next image, the next image. It’s insidious. It’s a God-given desire that’s gone haywire. We need control. Just a sin-ventory and win-ventory. But I want humility, admiration, composure, diligence, giving, self-control, and purity. I know you do, too.
A couple of quick things, ‘cause they’re telling me I’m out of time, some homework. Seven. Say seven with me.
Look at your last seven posts on social media. What did they say? What’re they about? What’s the motive behind them?
Also, look at the last seven people you’ve communicated with using technology. You show me your friends, I will show you your future. You’ve heard it. I can look at who you’ve communicated with, who you’re talking to right now. I can say, “Oh yeah, I know you.” And same with me. Because if we hang out with the wrong people, we associate with the wrong people, if we’re always texting the wrong people, we’ll end up missing God’s purposes and plans for our lives.
How about the last seven songs you’ve listened to on your playlist? How about the last seven movies that you watched? It tells us a huge amount.
So this brings me to the last bit of good news. We’ll end with this one. Here’s my challenge today. My challenge, and I’m doing this, and many others have agreed to do this, is for all of us to go on a social media fast. Whaa-whaa-whaaaaa! Some are busily right now posting. I’ve got one more. One more selfie. Duck face in church. Yeah, OK. I’m not saying you can’t e-mail or text or use your phone, I’m talking about disengaging from social media. The Twitter, the Instagram, the Facebook and so forth and so on. I was thinking the other day, you know a lot of social media is simply legalized stalking? Cody, I’m gonna stalk you, man. But it’s illegal! Voyeurism. I want to know what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I’m doing nothing, but I want to know what you’re doing and you’re doing and you’re doing. We’re gonna disengage from this stuff and we’re gonna walk around in nature! Wow! Look at the sky! The dirt! The clouds! It’s awesome! We’ll hear the voice of God and we’ll begin to do this sin-ventory and win-ventory and then, we can checknology before we wrecknology. Is that a deal? It’s a deal! It’s not easy. It’s not gonna be easy for me, but I’m telling you, great things will happen.
[Ed closes in prayer.]