“Be sober-minded; be watchful…resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world…”1 Peter 5:8-10
A Christian life, no matter what generation you’re part of, is a wonderful thing. It is beautiful to learn the path God has planned and to follow in His footsteps. However, it is also full of many obstacles.
I, like many other young Christians, struggle with issues like procrastination, time management, and a lack of motivation. These are a few of several struggles that take our attention so far away from the kingdom of God that we lose sight of its glory. Our focus is elsewhere, specifically on the new temptations of the current generation.
Unlike previous generations, the modern Christian has a new, and particularly difficult obstacle to overcome: the advancement of technology.
While not inherently evil, and very often used to expand God’s kingdom, technology is often a source of distraction and deceit. The Bible teaches us to “Abstain from every appearance of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:22), but that’s hard to do when evil is finding new, appealing ways to deceive our hearts and minds. One of the devil’s greatest tools is temptation.
Through the use of social media and day-time television, the devil provokes our insecurities, self-indulgences, and our desire to look more like the world. He “…prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) planting sins like vanity and pride into our minds.
Technology has given the world free reign to the sanctity of our homes, which leaves the minds of young Christians more vulnerable to, and less guarded from attack as scripture urges.
One of our biggest strengths in this online-era is that we’ve become more aware and accepting of social issues and mental illnesses. Racial equality, anxiety, and depression, are a few examples of the hot-topic issues that we have begun to address and gradually conquer in this generation, and that’s beautiful.
As a whole, we are radically empathetic. An example my mom likes to point out is that this generation is all about joining a cause. We are passionate about topics such as ending oppression, protecting animals, and saving the environment. We seem to be even more passionate about our international relationships and political views.
Our passion is strong and our desire to join causes is beautiful… but our passion is lacking in one of the most fundamental aspects of being a Christian: our faith.
Through all of our schooling we’ve been taught not to give in to peer pressure; not to worry about the opinions of others and to just be ourselves, to be an individual, to stand out. Through popular social media sites, like Twitter and Instagram, we promote this ideology by posting with #beautiful, #unique, #different, as we sip our Starbucks, dye our hair blonde, and complain about the WiFi connection on our brand new iPhones.
None of this is inherently bad, of course; none of this is a sin, but I ask you to consider: would you be able to tell the Christians from the atheists if you looked at a college campus today? Could you walk into a math classroom and tell who has a deep relationship with Christ, and who doesn’t even know His name?
Sadie Robertson is one of the strongest voices for modern Christians and a good example of standing out against the norm. She’s also one of the youngest. At just 21 years old, Sadie is using the influence of social media to spread her passion for Christ.
“[College students] are scared that they are going to sacrifice their beliefs because the odds are against them and they want to possess values, but life has always been very convenient for them with little need to sacrifice for what is right.”
Sadie points out that what modern Christians are scared of is sacrificing their relationship with God to save an earthly reputation.
“I challenge you…you beg people to take the truth. But when you beg, you’d better know the truth. Because they’re watching you and they’re saying ‘do you believe it enough to take it on to the next person?’ ‘Do you believe it enough to act it out?’ ‘Do you believe it enough to give your life for it? To know how Jesus felt?’”
Her passion for Christ stems from a real and deep, personal relationship with her God. All of us should be as excited and passionate about our faith and relationship with Christ as she is, and proud enough to bring it up in regular conversation… but we’re not.
One of my favorite modern poets, Taylor Mali, says this in his poem “Totally like, whatever, ya know?”:
“I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply question authority.
You have to speak with it, too.”
Our conviction, our confidence, these are what’s missing in modern Christianity. While we may post about the newest movement or tweet about the next great cause, we don’t spread the word of Christ and die to self to live like Him.
We are scared of the social repercussions of speaking out in confidence because of the negative assumptions that come with being a Christian. We are very good at believing, at feeling, and at loving and accepting, but are weak in our convictions when it comes to Christ. This causes us to turn away from situations and arguments that make us question our faith, and choose to live out a life of convenience, rather than one that invites conflict.
Christianity, however, isn’t supposed to be convenient.
Philippians 1:29-30 states:
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him, but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
This message is echoed in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (and others I’ll link to below):
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
The phrase “to suffer” embodies what it truly means to stand up against unpopular opinion. It is hard to stand out, it is hard to be different, and it is hard to do what is right, but it’s what God has called us to do.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:2
Technology makes it easy to conform, easy to look like everyone else. God is calling us to be transformed and to look like Christ. We are instructed to think about “whatever is honorable, whatever is pure” and to act in a way that is good, acceptable, and even perfect.
Romans 6:10-13 summarizes this call to action perfectly:
“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.“
God’s call to action is clear, so how do we apply this to our faith?
The first step is to study His Word. Scripture says to “…receive(d) the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily…” (Acts 17:12). This allows us to find for ourselves that the things written within the Bible are true and real, and gives us the tools necessary to strengthen our convictions and confidence in Christ.
The next step (and a personal plea to myself as well as to you) is to share the truth of the gospel at every opportunity. Sadie uses technology to her advantage in this situation and so can we. It gives us an advantage like no other development in history and allows us to reach millions of people across the world.
It’s easy to hide behind a screen, to scroll through comments we disagree with or see something wrong and stay silent. The real challenge is standing out even when you aren’t seen, and to be Christ-like even when you’re anonymous.
This gives us an opportunity to share the beauty of God’s holiness and justification, to acknowledge the beauty of His creation publicly, and to minister to the hurting and struggling people around us.
Using social media, we can speak up when something isn’t true, say “no” to fellow students who want us to compromise our standards, and help others stand back up again when the world has beat them down. We can promote unity and community by creating posts with #faith, #growing, and #throughHim while fighting for a noble cause.
It’s a difficult world to be in when you’re scared of being mocked for your beliefs. Believing in something is vulnerable, and standing up for it can make you feel exposed; but with God’s strength, anything is possible.
“…And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”1 Peter 5:8-10
We are His children, and that is unique.
That is special.
That is awe-inducing.
Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict
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