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Sharing or Selling?

• Greg Boyd

Like many things, social media has such incredible power for good, but also an incredible power for evil. One way that this evil is manifested is through the temptation of presenting ourselves only at our best in order to get LIFE from social media approval. What is the Kingdom response to this temptation?

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Social media is megaphone, an amplifier. Based on the principle of proportionality which Greg explained two weeks ago, the upside of social media is equal to its downside. The degree to which God can use it for good is the degree to which Satan can use it for evil. Therefore, we must not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes, as we must be aware of how he can subtly influence us to use good things to bad ends.

One of the ways social media has been used for bad ends is the social pressure to present ourselves well. Everyone is playing the social media hierarchy game, one where social worth depends upon the number of followers, likes, and friends. This is the social currency of the day. As a result, we feel the pressure to present only our best selves to everyone. Therefore, we agonize on how to present the best pictures and the best posts possible in order to increase our social currency.

Everyone is putting up their best pics, and even if all the pics are true, the fact that they present everyone is at their best creates a falsehood, an illusion. No one’s life and family is consistently as cute, happy, or beautiful as the pics we post. The fact that everyone is putting up their best, and only their best, puts pressure on YOU to put up your best and only your best.

The Kingdom calls us to present ourselves in ways that are in the opposite direction than the better-than-you pressure of social media. Three questions can help us address this:

  1. Are you getting your life from Christ? We are looking for LIFE, the fullness of life that can only be found in Christ. But we end up pursuing a false life by chasing the number of likes, views, swipes, and happy emojis. Multitudes today are addicted to this false way of getting life.

Only when we get our LIFE, our worth, from Christ, can we put off our old way of life where we get out false life. Paul tells us that we are to put off the patterns of the old life. We are not automatically free from the old-self just because we are in Christ. We must make choices to embrace our new identity as children of God, and this includes how we interact on social media.

  1. Are you the same wherever you are? We must assess if we are the same person online and in real life. Since there is a pressure to present our best selves in order to get social worth, how are we being pulled into the trap of being less than truthful about who we are?
  2. Is you online-self rightly related? Is the way that you are presenting yourself online a representation of the Kingdom call upon your life? This also means that you are also rightly related to people in the real life. We cannot actually find social satisfaction and interpersonal connection without interacting with people in face-to-face encounters. The kingdom of God is built through face-to-face relationships where love is expressed. Therefore, it is crucial to carve out social-media free zones in our families and with our friends, when we are present with one another.

We are called to live out the Kingdom in the midst of the abuse of social media, and when we do so, we offer an alternative to the world that is entrapped by Satan’s schemes.

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Topics: Culture, Discipleship, Relationships, Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: Interfaces

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Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 4:23-24

    You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefor each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

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5 thoughts on “Sharing or Selling?

  1. Mike Beynon says:

    Found myself thinking about this text, which I’m reading while listening to Greg’s message: Selling or Sharing?
    Delio is a Francian nun whose book is aiding me to understand the Jesuit anthropologist Pierre De Chardin. (Jesus is the alpha and omega of all our relationships, not social capital gained anywhere else.)

    We need a religious imagination that ignites our energies to move beyond mediocrity and fear, one that anticipates a new future of planet life. Our failure to be enkindled is because our image of God is old. Evolution discloses a new God, an immanent-transcendent fullness of love that inspires us to create anew, a new earth with a new God rising from within. The Gospels tell us of God’s faithful presence. We are invited to trust, surrender, and believe that this world can be different, that justice and forgiveness are possible for the earth community. God’s love is ever new, always with us yet ever before us. To live in this love is to be committed to the whole, to live in the whole, to think the whole, to love the whole, to be “turned to the whole.” Evolution is “wholemaking” in action, the rise of consciousness that realizes self-separateness is an illusion. This book is a way to move from what is partial and fragmenting to what promises to be more whole and full.

    Delio, Ilio. The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.

    1. Paige Slighter says:

      Thanks so much for sharing Mike.

  2. Kevin says:

    Greg, i’m really glad that your back is better; i’ve had that struggle for decades and the one thing that keeps me in check is an ‘Inversion Table’. Do yourself a favor and ease in to Inversion Therapy, yeah? I promise; it will change your life!

  3. Jerry Grace says:

    Thanks again Mike – I’m excited about this book – just ordered it

    I have just finished two and am in the process of reading a 3nd book that might add some additional insights.

    The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis – John Polkinghorne

    The development of kenotic ideas was one of the most important advances in theological thinking in the late twentieth century. In The Work of Love eleven foremost theologians and scientists discuss the kenotic view of creation, exploring the implications of this controversial perspective for Christian doctrine and the scientific enterprise generally. The authors’ backgrounds are diverse-ranging from systematic theology to neuropsychology-yet each agrees in seeing creation as God’s loving act of divine self-restriction. The key concept, kenosis (“self-emptying”), refers to God’s voluntary limitation of his divine infinity in order to allow room for finite creatures who are truly free to be themselves. This engaging formulation of God’s creative work challenges the common conception of God as a divine dictator and provides a more satisfying response to the perplexing problem of evil and suffering in the world. The fruit of discussions sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, these stimulating chapters bring a needed interdisciplinary approach to this weighty new trajectory in Christian thought. Contributors: Ian G. Barbour Sarah Coakley George F. R. Ellis Paul S. Fiddes Malcolm Jeeves Jürgen Moltmann Arthur Peacocke John Polkinghorne Holmes Rolston III Keith Ward Michael Welker

    Christ and the Cosmos Paperback – Keith Ward

    The concept of the ‘social Trinity’, which posits three conscious subjects in God, radically revised the traditional Christian idea of the Creator. It promoted a view of God as a passionate, creative, and responsive source of all being. Keith Ward argues that social Trinitarian thinking threatens the unity of God, however, and that this new view of God does not require a ‘social’ component. Expanding on the work of theologians such as Barth and Rahner, who insisted that there was only one mind of God, Ward offers a coherent, wholly monotheistic interpretation of the Trinity. Christ and the Cosmos analyses theistic belief in a scientific context, demonstrating the necessity of cosmology to theological thinking that is often overly myopic and anthropomorphic. This important volume will benefit those who seek to understand what the Trinity is, why it matters, and how it fits into a scientific account of the universe.

    What the Bible Really Teaches: About Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life Paperback – Keith Ward

    This book is a vigorous and lively contribution to the debate on the authority of scripture—how we read the Bible, and how, he believes, a fundamentalist reading is unsustainable. Thoroughly grounded in the Bible, suffused with a profound and clear understanding of theology, this is a book that will enlighten many and help the many Christians who struggle with these issues.

    Both Keith’s books give somewhat shocking ideas of what this, much in the future, evolutionary earth might look like.

    Keith Ward is an Anglican priest, philosopher, and theologian. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a priest of the Church of England. He was a canon of Christ Church, Oxford, until 2003. Comparative theology and the relationship between science and religion are two of his main topics of interest. He was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford from 1991 to 2004.

  4. Joann says:

    Isn’t this the game of judging yourself and others?

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