Last Sunday, I listened to a clear call to humility come from the pulpit of our church. I had also just read Mark Driscoll's letter of apology that was getting all kinds of attention online. The letter was, in many ways, a confession of pride, along with a resolve to seek a more humble way of living. Yesterday, this popped out at me as I read the day's entry in Scotty Smith's Everyday Prayers: "Here's my cry: continue to free me from doing anything for the approval of people, out of the fear of people, or to gain power over people. I work for you, Lord Jesus, not for mere men." Powerful.
The reality is that we are living on a cultural landscape that breeds and feeds the life-sapping sin of hubris. It's not seen as a malignancy on our character. It's not even seen as benign. Rather, hubris is celebrated and encouraged.
Having had my life transition from pre-social media days to a world dominated by living online, I know first-hand just how easy it is enlist social media to promote one's self. I see what's able to happen now in light of what never could have happened then. It's even worse for those who haven't lived long enough to gain the big picture. When they jump online to shape, build, and promote their brand it's simply a normal part of their day. . . like eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom. . . and what can be wrong with that?!?
Over the course of the last five years, two of the cultural trends I've been tracking with great interest and intensity are our slide deeper and deeper into the abyss of Narcissism, and our unexamined dive into the world of social media. Combine the two with our deep brokenness and we wind up being mad scientists dabbling with joy over a dangerous mix. . . . and again, we aren't even aware that that's what's happening.
It's so easy to beat our chests online.
I think that the antidote to this pandemic that most of us don't even know exists is two-tiered. No, I don't mean to simplify the issues, but I think that this at least offers what could be a healthy start. At least it's been somewhat helpful to me. . . .
First, immerse yourself in the Word. . . the humble and other-centered incarnate Word Jesus. . . and God's written revelation of His self, will, and way in the Scriptures. Without that perspective taking root and growing in us, we'll never be able to see, recognize, and address those weedy sins that we so easily allow to root and grow in our lives.
Second, exercise a little good and disciplined sense in your online social media comings and goings. Specifically, start by taking a long hard look at the history of your tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook posts, and profile pictures. What do they promote? Seriously. What kind of care have you taken as you choose your images and words? What kind of criteria made those images and words "post-worthy" for you? What are you doing in your photos?
Self-examination is a good thing. Then, just before you hit "send," "post," or "reply," pause and ask yourself these questions. . .
- Does this matter?
- Is this useful to others?
- What is this photo advancing?
- What do these words advance?
- Does this promote and reflect Kingdom of God living?
- Does this promote or reflect the advancement of myself, the world, the flesh, or the devil?
- Does this glorify God?
- Does this glorify me?
- Come on. . . why am I doing this? . . . . really.