I have always been one who, if given the option, prefers a book over a movie.
But I don’t always take the same approach when choosing between social media or spending time with God.
After Dr. Pettit’s encouragement to take a social media break during Bible Conference, I compared the amount of time I spend on Instagram to the amount of time I spend reading my Bible and praying.
I was shocked to discover how many hours I devote to a virtual reality that I could have spent with my very real and holy God. The more time I spend looking at other people’s “perfect” Internet lives, the more discontented I become with my own life.
The more time I spend with God, however, the more grateful I become for His daily grace and mercy. As my social media consumption has increased, I have noticed changes in how I view and interact with people.
I have developed an astounding ability to rapidly jump from one thing to the next, forgetting to soak up each precious moment God has given me. I have become accustomed to quickly scrolling through information and photographs on a screen without ever considering their significance.
I have lost my ability to focus on other people. I find myself seeking entertainment and self-fulfillment in relationships rather than looking for ways I can invest in other people and learn from them. I must force myself to carefully listen to others’ needs and respond in a way that reflects the truths of the Bible.
I have lost my ability to focus on God. Like Psalm 46:10 says, I need to be still and know that He is God. I need to exalt His name continually, because He is worthy of my undivided attention.
Studying my Bible and praying take thought and concentration, but the results have a much greater eternal value than anything I can get from my smartphone.
Getting to know my God better each day should be my top priority. I will give an account to God for the time I spend on my smartphone, so I need to carefully consider whether the things I do on my smartphone are honoring to God and fulfilling His purpose for my life.
As humans, we have a natural void within our hearts that we often seek to fill using various forms of entertainment. In reality, God alone can fulfill our deepest longings for love and acceptance.
A diet consisting entirely of lollipops may be sweet and fun, but the consumer would suffer greatly from a lack of nutrition. In the same way, I must watch my social media consumption to ensure that I am not just filling my mind and soul with useless tidbits of information.
Christ is the One I should turn to when I am seeking fulfillment or when I feel hurt, anxious or rejected, because the Internet will only leave me feeling emptier than I did before I ever pressed the power button.
The emphasis on prayer this year in Bible Conference opened my eyes to how dependent I am on myself and other people instead of seeking after God for wisdom and satisfaction.
When I spend a lot of time on social media, I become more selfish and entitled. I wish for things I can never have, I am jealous of those people who have them and I justify my reasons for why I deserve what others have.
Alternatively, God’s Word reveals my sin and makes me long for my eternal home. His Word compels me to love others more than myself, to sacrifice my needs and desires for others and to seek to make others happy rather than myself.
So, the next time I am tempted to pick up my phone and open my Instagram app (which, I might add, is located right next to my Bible app), I need to stop and ask myself if I am using social media to fill a void that I should be filling with truth from God’s Word.