by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
We live in a very connected world. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram all serve as ways to connect people from around the world through a simple, accessible medium that facilitates connection. In theory, it is an incredible way to foster community, a universal desire of all humans. But as is often the case, our intentions don’t always result in God’s created intent for us. Social media postings often result in comparisons against realities that are not real at all. In fact, this constant need to “measure up” and acquire “likes” and “shares” can contribute to deep depression, cyberbullying, and even isolation.
Although its authors could not have anticipated the ways our digital world connects us, the bible does speak to the importance of community. In fact, despite Jesus’s intentionality in creating community, He too found himself abandoned in His moment of greatest need.
Read Mark 14:32-51. It records an instance in which Jesus asks three of His disciples, His closest and dearest friends, to join Him for prayer. They eagerly agree only to fail to pray. Later, when Jesus is betrayed by one of the twelve—Judas, the treasurer of His group—those same friends would quickly abandon Jesus to avoid getting arrested.
Alone and abandoned, Jesus is lead away to an illegitimate court gathering of men who had already purposed to destroy His life and silence His teachings. Appearing before the religious leaders of His day, Jesus was alone and silent. The loudest cries in the room were not from friends pleading for his life, but from accusers screaming false accusations against the son of God.
Have you ever felt alone and abandoned? Have you ever trusted deeply in someone only to have them disappoint you? Most of us have. But if we are honest, most of us have also acted in that same manner towards others. We are a fickle and hypocritical people. We need others but often don’t want others to need us – at least not when it is inconvenient for us.
Praise God that Jesus didn’t respond to humanity the way the disciples responded to Him, nor the way you and I often respond to Jesus. Knowing His mission and sustained by His intimate relationship with the Father, Jesus was willing to be alone so we would never be alone. He was willing to risk His very life, abandoned on a cross, for the redemption of man. He is faithful even when we are not (1 Tim 2:13). And He has promised He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5).
A. W. Tozer talked about the dilemma of aloneness we face as Christians this way:
What we need very badly in these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day. For each of us, the time is coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith, it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.
There will be times in your Christian life when you will be asked to stand firm for God’s truth. These moments will not be easy and may result in being alienated from others, even family and friends. Are you willing to follow Jesus when others won’t? Are you ready to pursue truth in all aspects of your life even when there is no one to applaud you or encourage you? Are you willing to trust Jesus even when others “unfriend” you, don’t “like” your posts, or choose to stop “following” you? Is Jesus really enough?
If He is, then we must cling to the truth that, as followers of Jesus, we are never alone. There may be times when others choose not to stand with us, but Jesus will stand with us. God’s presence is as near as our breath (Ps 145:8). Call upon Him in those moments when you feel isolated and alone. If He is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)
Matthew D. Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Crown: 2013.
Suren Ramasubbu, “Influence of Social Media on Teenagers,” The Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/suren-ramasubbu/influence-of-social-media-on-teenagers_b_7427740.html
Katie Hurley, “Social Media and Teen Mental Health,” Psycom, https://www.psycom.net/social-media-teen-mental-health
A.W. Tozer, On the Almighty God, Complied by Ron Eggert, Moody: 2015, September 30.