Is Facebook evil? Yes, my friends, I indeed believe that Facebook may be an instrument of evil. Sort of.
Right about now, some of you are grabbing your pitchforks and lighting your torches, ready to watch the status-sharing evil empire burn, while others of you are gathering bricks and looking for rocks large enough to hurl at my blasphemous head through the computer screen. (You know who you are.)
Well, perhaps for a moment we can hear the slight sarcasm in my voice, put away our sharp objects and flame throwers, and do a little heart searching. But let me warn you: This might hurt a bit.
A Wake-Up Call
A few months ago, I realized that my morning quiet time wasn’t as long as I wanted it to be. This was frustrating because I get up at a crazy-early hour for the sole purpose of having enough time to spend alone with God before the morning rush starts kicking me around.
It seemed like every single day my time in the Word began nearly half an hour after I hoped it would. Then, I was forced to rush through (or abandon) my scripture reading, quickly answer my Bible study homework, and promise myself to make up my prayer time throughout the rest of the day.
After I got over thinking I was a helpless victim of the clock, I realized I was neither helpless nor a victim. Instead, I was the culprit.
You see, I had given myself permission to check Facebook and email while my tea was brewing. My “rule” was that I would relax with my iPad only until my tea was ready to pour, and then I would shut it down and dive into the Word.
While my intention was good, the actual practice of quasi-self-discipline was nothing but a sham. Before long, nearly half my quiet time was spent scrolling through my Facebook feed or reading “really good” articles that were intended to improve my heart and life, to the neglect of scrolling through the scriptures in search of the only One who has the real power to change either my heart or my life.
Once I recognized the truth of my morning situation, I made a new rule: No going on my iPad or computer until after my morning quiet time is finished.
Waking Up (Again)
Now, I’m facing another frustrating situation. I’m realizing that I constantly feel like I “just can’t seem to get anything done.” Do you ever have that feeling? From what I hear (mostly from Facebook, of course) it’s a pretty universal struggle for women.
For a very long time, I’ve allowed myself to play the part of victim in this little (or not-so-little) struggle of mine. I’ve acted like the clock, or the clutter, or the vast amount of laundry produced by my mid-size family is the problem.
But the fact is, while I can’t seem to find the time to vacuum on a regular basis or bake cookies for lunches, I magically have time to check out what’s happening in the online world a zillion times a day. I have time to spin my wheels, but don’t have time to move forward on the tasks that matter.
The Sickness or the Symptom
It’s tempting for me to think that my issue here is Facebook. And it might be tempting for you to think that if your issue is not Facebook, then you don’t have an issue at all.
Unfortunately, our surface problems are usually just symptoms that expose the greater sickness within our hearts. This is a sickness that has plagued us and all of mankind since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden.
The problems and distractions we face today may seem unique to our culture, but they go back to the beginning of time. Our hearts love to look for fulfillment anywhere but the place it may be found.
Eve got distracted from the truth of God’s words by an outright lie and a shiny piece of fruit. Time and again (and again…and again…and again…) the Israelites whored after idols, thinking they would fill some void in their lives. And the apostle Paul specifically addressed a woman’s natural tendency to be drawn away from Christ by following after our passions (1 Timothy 5:11-13).
We like to follow after shiny objects, virtual relationships, juicy news. We thrive on the likes, follows, pins, praise, and advice of others, whether online or in real life. Yes, sometimes Facebook may be downright evil, and so is Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Netflix.
Or, maybe our struggle is with distractions that are a little less obvious. Lest we point out the splinters in others while ignoring our own log-filled eye, let’s recognize that our always-clean house, selfie-worthy outfit, ministry-filled schedule, well-behaved children, or God-fearing husband can also be a flaming arrow aimed squarely at our time and affections.
If we aren’t careful to guard our hearts, good things quickly can become a source of sin in our lives. There is nothing inherently bad about enjoying social media, serving in ministry, having a well cared for home, or pouring ourselves into the lives of our husband and children, but we would do well to heed God’s warning that “sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
So, what should we do?
Should we become like the Pharisees and develop enough rules to keep us from all sin and trouble?
Should we argue that those things that have a place of importance in our lives, that they’re of value, and that our use of them is covered by grace?
Let’s look at how Jesus tells us to deal with things–even good things–that cause us to sin.
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off…and if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out…” Mark 9:43-48
I think it’s pretty safe to say that God does not consider hands, or feet, or eyes to be inherently bad, right? As a matter of fact, they’re good things to have…unless they lead us to sin. If they lead us to sin, they need dealt with, by drastic means if necessary.
Jesus lays out a two-fold plan for addressing our sins:
1. Identify what is causing you to sin (if your hand…foot…eye causes you to sin).
- Is there something that’s keeping you from fulfilling the tasks you know God has called you to do?
- Do you get annoyed by the people in your life when they interrupt you during a particular activity?
- Do you find yourself often saying things like, “Just one more time…Just a few more minutes…I’m almost done, and I really mean it this time.”
- Do you feel twitchy or distracted if you can’t do a favorite activity at regular intervals?
- Do you look for excuses to justify and soothe your guilt (“Hey, I deserve some me-time!”)?
2. Take action (cut it out).
- Confess your sins and struggles to God, remembering that Jesus has already paid the price to redeem you from them.
- Seek ways to have accountability, either to another person or even to your own conscience (such as tracking how you use your time).
- Develop routines and “rules” to avoid temptation (like I did to preserve my quiet time), and even remove or delete the distractions and idols, if needed.
- Search God’s Word and memorize His Truth that applies directly to your personal issues.
- Pray. Pray. Pray.
Living It Out
For my problem of never being able to get things done, I’m working–by the grace of God–to face my issue in a God-glorifying way.
I recognize that my problem with the pull Facebook is because I like the approval and comfort of other people (sad fact). Even as I’ve been writing this, my fingers have been itching to click over and see if I have any “important” notifications (another sad fact).
Some of the physical actions I may take are to track how I spend my day, set aside specific time for social media, write pertinent verses on index cards near the computer (ie. Proverbs 31:27), and make a point to begin my day praying about my expected temptations.
For you, there may be very different sin issues you face and drastically different actions needed for your fight. After you identify your own heart struggles, you may need to stop texting others about your husband’s faults, or delete the app that leads you astray, or intentionally overlook your children’s messy ways, or take a break from watching television or reading fiction books.
God is kind enough not to let us find true joy in our sinfulness. If we ask, God will reveal our heart-sickness and give us the scalpel needed to cut it out. His weighty hand of grace reaches into our selfishness and gives us a way of escape.
And through this entire process, let’s never forget the truth of the gospel! Our work against sin is not so we can gain the approval of a righteous God. Jesus already did that for us because He was the only One who ever could. Our work against sin is meant to conform us into the likeness of Christ, not so we can earn our salvation, but so our joy will be complete.
What issues have become symptoms of the sickness of your heart? What action should you take to “cut it out”?