"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, 'If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" Matthew 16:24 (KJV)
"There are so many wonderful Bible verses that pertain to minimalism, living a simpler life (like Jesus), and remaining focused on that is true. Here, I share my thoughts on digital clutter, specifically social media.
“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Surely, if Jesus were to be human, living in today’s world, He would not have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc. Can you imagine if He did? Would He be taking photos of His food all the time? #blessed. He certainly wouldn’t be flooding our news feeds with the latest selfie after a shopping spree, unboxing of mail-order product service or showing before and after photos after being on a keto diet for six months and claiming “keto is life.”
So, if we are called to live like Jesus, why do we do all of the aforementioned things? I am just as guilty as the next person. Yes, it’s fun, and it can be entertaining and something to talk about socially with others. But it breaks my heart when I think of all the time we waste scrolling. I once heard a statistic that the average person scrolls the length of the Empire State building daily. That’s 15,000 inches! Or the height of Mount Everest, at a whopping 348,350 inches, annually! Now, I choose to relay these distances in inches, not to make it seem astronomical (while it still is),but, to me, it is more relatable to what we are actually doing when reaching these distances. Think about it. Each post on your screen when looking through your Facebook or Instagram feed is a few inches, would you agree?
What are we missing when we are doing this? I don’t have any children yet, but some of my closest friends do, and boy, are they quick! And they grow up quickly, too. I don’t want to miss that while looking at what everyone else is doing.
“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
In my mind, there are two large categories that many fall into when posting content on social media - self-inflation (Look at me! Look what I did ! Look what I bought! My life is perfect, etc., etc.) or self-loathing (woe is me, my life stinks, everything is against me, feel bad for me, etc.)
“This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
This leads to something else the Bible talks about, and that is comparison.
“And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4
Comparison hurts all of us.We hurt ourselves trying to keep up with the Joneses (who are the Joneses anyway? I’d like to speak with them!) and living beyond our means. Telling ourselves, and maybe even our loved ones, that we aren’t good enough. Feeling worthless because we didn’t get enough “likes” or adoring comments on that new gym selfie.
“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” Luke 12:15
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
There is an increased number of people (of all ages) that are becoming mentally ill or engaging in these behaviors which trigger things in the mind that create mental issues of depression, anxiety, and other harmful conditions. While I am no doctor, I experience this first hand. I know that if I sit and scroll for too long on any platform, either frequently in a period of time or for a long time after time away, I begin to feel my depression creep up on me. It’s like something is pulling me back down into the darkness I have worked so hard to climb out of and stay out of.
There are many days that I wish I didn’t partake in social media. I pray that one day I feel and can know that I don’t need it! It’s the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) taking over when I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Much like I challenge myself, I challenge you, what are you really missing out on when you are scrolling?
Not only that, but there is also this sense of fatigue. Information overload. Don’t get me wrong. The internet and even social media are great things. When, just like many things in life, they are used in moderation.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
I love that verse. In this day and age, anyone can watch what one is doing. Let’s show the world the love and faith of Jesus.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Often times I ask when there is a newsworthy data breach, what could those folks do with their skills if they were using them for good in the world? What could we be doing instead of scrolling through our newsfeeds? Reading the Bible, praying, teaching others, volunteering, and the list can go on.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17
Okay, so if Jesus was in human form on this earth with us in the present time, He MIGHT have social media (His disciples probably would have set it up for Him!) but He would use it to preach the Gospel and share His love.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8"
Bio: Avra lives in Green Bay, WI with her husband Shawn. She has attended Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Green Bay since 1992 where she was confirmed and married. She has served as the youth director and event coordinator. She has played in the praise band since 2005, sings in the choir, and also serves on altar guild and LWML. She has been studying minimalism for about three years now and continues to strive to find ways to live a simpler, more intentional life. She follows content producers such as The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, and Biblical Minimalism. She is often able to share her faith and minimalism in her career in the financial services industry. Her hobbies are music (playing and listening to live performances), reading, writing, decorating (yes, even minimally), gardening, board games, golf, watching wrestling, and cooking.