How Facebook Killed Community

[42] And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [43] And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. [44] And all who believed were together and had all things in common. [45] And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. [46] And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, [47] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

 

Our current culture intrigues me. For at least a handful of years, social media has been on an exponential rise (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc). We easily live in the most connected era in history. I can instantly connect with my friends, family, and even my favorite musicians, actors, authors, pastors, etc. on any smart device I have at my disposal at any time I want and anywhere I want.

It was ingenious for the founders and designers of these mediums to hone in on humanity’s deepest, most desperate desire to be connected to others. I found a statistic, based on a poll taken in 2012, which suggests there are approximately 1.4 billion Facebook users worldwide, 700 billion minutes spent per month on Facebook, 190 million average amount of tweets per day, etc.

We are a people hungry for connection and attention. The sad reality is that so many of us feel as though we’re genuinely connected with our “friends” and family via social networking when the fact of the matter is the status of these relationships, like many of our posts, is exaggerated. Instead of partaking in actual relationships that require time, energy, and commitment, we fool ourselves into thinking that if we stalk our closest acquaintances and know every detail of their lives they share with the world it will sufficiently fulfill our relational needs.

It is a clever ploy to create something termed “social media” that actually is its antithesis. What has been perpetuated is a false sense of community and companionship within millions of seemingly anti-social people, too lazy and insecure to seek out authentic friendships.

From Genesis to the present, God designed mankind to be a relational being. This is evidenced as he pronounced, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Going back even further, before the beginning of time, we find that God even existed in community with Himself. John 1:1-2 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” The God of the Bible is the everlasting Triune (or “Three-in-One”) God; and, since we know that connectedness is in His very nature, it is natural that He would create in a way that reflects this quality.

As the “Age of Grace” was ushered in by Jesus’ death and resurrection, we get a glimpse into the New Testament church’s life in the passage above (Acts 2:42-47). What you find is a group of people gathered together in unity (spiritually and physically). Their main aim was to magnify the God of the gospel, which enabled them to find “favor with all the people” (v. 47). Not only that, but God was also using this fellowship of believers to bring about salvation in the lives of many. They were being taught the gospel, living life with one another, and giving of their resources to those in need.  Sounds like a great church, huh? When life is lived together around the commonality of a relationship with Jesus Christ, this is what you find.

Jesus actually prayed for this type of community during His time on earth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-21, 23)

What He was asking for was a people united under the banner of the good news that He brought, woven together like a beautiful tapestry. Like the materials used to form them, on our own we can indeed function (sometimes quite well); however, together we are always better and capable of creating something extraordinary and breathtaking.

In the economy that Jesus desires for His Church, isolated Christians are not the norm (and, frankly, should not exist). Unfortunately, if you look closely, you will find that the majority of us are cut off from other believers. This is unacceptable, and must be remedied. We cannot allow for our churches to be filled with “Facebook Christians”, who on the surface look as though they have all they need, when in actuality they are devastatingly lonely.

God intended for us to be in community with one another. It demonstrates who He is in relationship to Himself, and what He desires us to find in Him. I know it’s difficult to admit that you need other people, but you do. You can’t help it. You were created that way. To live without community is to miss out on the fullness of following Christ.

I wholeheartedly believe that community is a MUST in the life of a Christ-follower. Genuine community reminds us that we’re human. It gives us an outlet for casual conversation (because shared interests and stories help us connect on a deeper level), authentic confession (because none of us is perfect), and spiritual encouragement (because walking with Jesus can be tough and we can’t do it alone).

To sum it up, if you don’t have a group of people you regularly are in community with, find one TODAY! Do not isolate yourself from the body of Christ. Do not be the anti-social Christian. (It’s fine if you are an introvert, but do not neglect fellowship with others due to a personality trait.)

We need actual friends and fellowship. Facebook can be a great tool for networking, but we cannot allow cyber interactions to be our main source of communication and connection with others because oftentimes these exchanges are shallow, disingenuous, and sometimes misleading. I know that opening yourself up to others can be a scary thing, and there is a very real possibility that you will get hurt somewhere along the line, BUT it is so worth the risk.

Be united with Christ. Likewise, be united with one another. God can do great things in and through us when we gather together with like minds and hearts to follow Jesus well. Do not settle for surface-level relationships. You need more than that. Go find it! 

 

-Sean

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