By Jonathan Just
Have you been in a restaurant recently where family and friends are sitting together, so absorbed in their smartphones that the only time they look up is not to make eye contact with each other, but to see how far their food is? It’s a pretty typical sight. Even though they may be at the same table, they could very well be on different planets.
We live in an age where we don’t see the need to sacrifice or share more than what you’ll find on social media. We have chosen convenience over what is costly – not prepared to count the cost, not even knowing what that looks like. Time is everyone’s currency, but are you investing in what really matters?
Contrary to popular belief, time is not circular or moving in a clockwise direction. Rather, it’s more linear as it marches forward on an ever-changing landscape of moments that you can either choose to explore, or not. These days because we see reality from behind a screen, we disregard the living-and-breathing people right in front of us and the moments that pass us by. Could it be that we’ve become phone zombies? Check out this hilarious video from Howard Fyvie where he shows why we could be becoming that society.
Presence or pretense?
There’s something about being in the moment that a picture or status update will never fully capture. Social media steals that away from so many – the appearance of being with others while never fully being in the moment with them. Social media has shifted people’s understanding of relationship, where we can be supposedly ‘connected’ to hundreds of people while never moving beyond the superficial.
It really comes down to whether or not we consider the family and friends in our lives as important enough to commit to when it’s not convenient to us. Do you know that your presence is a gift that no-one else can give the way you can? Our social media presence may partly reflect who we are, but for most it’s a platform to shine the spotlight on us – my achievements, how funny or clever I think I am. Legendary hip-hop artist, Lecrae, put it best when he famously said: “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” I think for most, social media is a façade. And behind the pretense is a deeper search for validation based on what others think of your best moments (usually filtered).
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[i] The cool thing about God’s presence is that when you begin to experience Him, you want more. His love has changed you forever. And you can’t help but share that with others.
Tear down the curtain
Something incredible happened while Jesus was on the cross, breathing His last breath – the curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom.[ii] Yes, you read correctly – from top to bottom. For most of us today without any prior Jewish understanding of why the curtain was such a big deal, it basically separated God’s holiness from the sinfulness of His people. Once a year, the high priest would go behind the curtain and make atonement for their sin. So, when Jesus died on the cross, He essentially shed His blood as a final atoning sacrifice opening up God’s holy presence to all who would repent and believe the good news.[iii]
Even though there is no longer any obstacle stopping us from entering into God’s presence, aren’t we the ones who put up our own kind of curtains that separate us from each other, like believing social media is social and smartphones are smart? Please don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with technology in any shape or form – it can do a lot of good. But if families and friends are more concerned about checking on social media than checking on each other – I’m worried.
As the curtain was torn in two, Jesus made it possible for anyone to not only enter into the physical temple of God, but to be the temple. The apostle Paul poses this question to the Christians of Corinth: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”[iv] It’s a radical statement if you think about it; the Holy One not only dwelling amongst sinful people, but also living inside of them by His Spirit. You don’t get more up close and personal than that!
God has made Himself present to you – will you receive Him and experience the “fullness of joy” your heart truly longs for? Don’t miss the moment.
[i] Psalm 16:11
[ii] Mark 15:37-38
[iii] Colossians 1:19-23
[iv] 1 Corinthians 3:16