by Matthew “Toke” Wright
My favorite verse in the Bible says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
It seems every time I post something on social media, I find me comparing myself to others. Sometimes it feels like it can suck the life out of me like an overgrown leech, using my Instagram as a portal to feed on my ego. I sit there clicking constantly and refreshing my account to see if I can just get one more like. Another.. Another.. Another.. Another.. Just one more and I’ll meet my goal of X amount. There we go. Now I’m happy. Oh wait, John Doe over here got triple the amount of likes and comments that I got. John Doe is more loved than me and he didn’t even use the max amount of 30 hashtags to grab hold of every eye possible. Now I’m scrolling his feed, studying his layout, taking notes on his attire, his poses, the quote he used that was entirely misquoted and had absolutely nothing to do with his post. 20 minutes later I’m reading the comments people left on a post he made in 1876. Now I see that not only is social media depriving me of my very life, but I’ve discovered that Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have unintentionally invented a time machine.
“Do not conform.. be transformed.”
About a month ago I joined a church-wide fast. During the fast I asked God what I could do extra other than the typical Daniel’s Fast. He told me to give up my phone for a week. If I could be honest, I probably pretended not to hear him for a few hours that day. “What’s that? Your whisper is too quiet…” In reality though, as you begin to draw near to Him, He draws near to you so those whispers are easier to hear than sometimes we like to admit. Especially when He tells you to give up that hunk of metal and glass that has inevitably become an extension of your very being. I guess this was when I realized I had become a robot. Trying to do and achieve what others have in the way they have. That sounds a lot like conforming to me.
“..renewing of your mind.”
I had become a victim of the enemies schemes. I lied to myself saying that this was the way I would do The Lord’s work, telling myself that He had instilled within me this calling to be bigger online, and succumbing to the ideology that by doing what others have done, I would become successful and able of bringing salt and light to the earth. With large numbers of followers, I’d be able to put God on a higher platform so that others could see who I served. This was a false doctrine that I pushed on myself. I was the student and the teacher. With ridding myself of these toxic principles, I was able to see what I’d been doing wrong all this time: taking the weight on my own shoulders and trying to do it all on my strength. As Christians, we know that God is to instruct us and teach our ways. He says He will counsel with His eye upon us. The truth is, I don’t need to be a big hit on social media. What I need to do is build a relationship with Him and those around me. One true friend is greater than a million followers and likes. With trying to find a presence online, not only did I steal myself of joy, I also did away with potential friends. I wasted lots of time by pouring my energy into a facade, a mirage compiled of hidden binary calculations in order to produce a sense of hope. The problem with this is that our hope doesn’t come from man. Our hope, joy, and peace resides within the Prince of Peace. He straightens our path no matter how crooked or distorted it may seem. Only when we decide to renew our mind will we be able to truly grow in our transformation.
“Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.”
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with social media itself. In fact, it can help you do immeasurably great and wonderful things. It is a great platform to help love on others, to support others’ dreams, to promote your church or an awesome song that you’ve heard. Even in times of tragedy, it can help you reach out and ask for prayer or show your viewers that you have a popped tire with high expectation of someone in that area to see it and be of help. The list really goes on forever. What I don’t want us to do is put our everything into it. Log off or put your phone in airplane mode once in a while. I promise that planet Earth will continue to rotate on its axis. The gravitational force will not be changed because you don’t respond to a message. What we need to focus on is being precise with God’s will and not ignoring His voice. Set a priority to be in your devotionals daily. You’d be surprised at how spending the first hour or so can transcend throughout the rest of your day. Do not let your phone eclipse the Son and you will see your days are brighter. Dig into your Bible and see what He has for you that day. Ask Him to reveal things about yourself and to show you what’s next. Sometimes just the baby steps can help set the tone for an extreme move in your life. I’ve realized that even in the little things, as I look back at the trajectory of my past, there has been a steady incline due specifically and only to obedience. Even in my shortcomings and what I see as my biggest fails, God was with me and preparing me for my future. I know He’s doing exactly the same for you as you trust in His will.
“His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
His will is good. His will is pleasing. His will is perfect. God doesn’t want you to feel burnt out. He doesn’t want you overwhelmed or depressed. I feel like all of these can come into play when we try to do it all on our own or to try and please others. Whether it be in text, social media or in person. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”. We don’t work for our following, our boss, our parents or our pastors. Everything we do, we should do unto the Lord. That means that when we are at work, we need to have the mentality that we are doing it in order to serve our God. With that imbedded way of thinking, it is a lot easier to find what we are doing good, pleasing and perfect no matter what the task or subject at hand is. Instead of focusing on our following, I think it’s time we focus on who we are following. Are we more focused on following the date of that new shoe launch? Maybe that new album that’s going to drop? We need to renew our mind and put the focus back on Jesus. Spoiler alert: Jesus died for you and is now alive and well. He also said that He’s returning for you. When we trade our boss, parent or pastor for Jesus who literally died a brutal death in order for us to live, it’s a lot easier to go at it without complaints. Comparing His death to asking paper or plastic, cleaning a room or turning off a phone for a week would be nonsensical. There’s no comparison in the slightest and yet He went at it with no hesitation. There wasn’t an under-breath comment, a suggestive hand gesture, a rolling of the eyes or an excuse that He was too scared or didn’t feel well that day. He was there to submit to His Father, to which we should do the same. I’m not saying we will unquestionably be a martyr, but we all have to give up and sacrifice something. Whether it be an hour you normally spend watching your favorite Netflix series, playing another 5 rounds of Fortnite, or scrolling through the endless feed we all know is just part of everyone’s highlight reel. We all need to reposition our focus at times. Maybe we would feel more called if we put the phone down for a bit and focused on the One that calls. Rest your mind and speak with God today. Don’t conform, be transformed.