Lights softly twinkle and glow. Ornaments sparkle as the lights dance with their glitter. The oven warms the house as the aroma of baking cookies fills the air and mixes with the scent of pine from a fresh tree or wreath. Our hands are warmed as we sip from a mug of steaming hot cocoa topped with melting marshmallows. Joyous Christmas carols soothe and lift our hearts as we busy ourselves with various holiday preparations. These are just a few of the things that may come alive in our imagination as we think about this time of year – the holiday season.
However, tucked in among all the seasonal peace and joy, we have social media which has changed the holiday season for many of us. Years ago we would excitedly greet our friends after each holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) and ask a host of questions as we swapped our holiday stories with each other. But now…
We do not need to ask what gift our friend got from her husband because we have already seen the picture on Instagram. We have no need to ask how their trip home went because we watched their progress on Four Square. We do not need to ask about what food they took to the big family gathering because we had been following their Pinterest board for the past few weeks and already knew their detailed plans. We know they had a great time because we saw all the updated family photos on Facebook. We did not even need to call them to wish them a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year because we just tweeted all our friends before we even crawled out of bed that morning.
I do not intend to make you feel like social media is a modern day Scrooge, instead, I want to challenge our hearts to reform our use of social media to glorify God even during the holidays. Here are a few holiday tips for using social media:
- Photo Perfection: Even when the family pet does not cooperate or the grandchildren make bunny ears behind Grandpa’s head it is easy to look at all the photos posted and see them as perfection while envy creeps into your thoughts. Why don’t I have such a happy family? Wish I had enough money to dress my children that way! Why wasn’t I invited to any Holiday parties? Take those thoughts captive! Remember that you do not know what was happening just before that flash snapped. You may be allowing your heart to be envious of a family that was fighting all morning and slapped smiles on their faces just long enough to look the part of “happy”. According to 1 Samuel, God does not look at the outward smiles and coordinating family outfits – He looks at their hearts, their inward thoughts, attitudes, and motivations.
- Cultivate Contentment: Whether it is the happy looking photo or the joy filled tweet, it is our mind’s natural inclination to be jealous of what they have, what they are doing, what they just got. It does not really matter if the post is genuine or not, what matters is our own heart. In the book of Philippians, verses 10 through 19, Paul shares how God has taught Him to be content no matter what his circumstances are. In fact, the popular verse – Philippians 4:13 – is talking about “doing all things” in regards to being content. In other words, whether this is a hard Christmas with little to eat and few to no gifts or a lavish Christmas with rich foods and many presents, through Christ we can do all things…be content because we have Him! Through the power of the risen Lord and Savior you can do poor, rich, or middle class and be content in it!
- Be The Present: Instead of focusing on updating your status, sharing all 20 photos of your little one opening one gift, tweeting a running commentary of the gift giving process or the detailed menu being served, be the present to your family and friends by engaging the people who are with you in the same room. Enjoy the time you have with family or friends this season and let your love show by talking to them, asking them questions, learning about who they are and what they plan to do in the upcoming year. Make your relationship with them be what they remember until the next holiday season when your gift was long forgotten.
- Ask THE Question: Before you post anything – picture, status update, pin, tweet, new blog post, check-in – ask the main question: how will this make God look great to others and spread His fame through the realm of social media?
Before you leave this post thinking I have got it all together, please know that I am challenging my own heart with each letter I type. I am sharing with you what the Holy Spirit is lovingly confronting in my own life. For those who do not think that social media plays a big deal in the holidays, here is a little infographic that demonstrates the impact of just one platform of social media. Now tell me…how do you plan to glorify God with your social media this holiday season?
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Did you know that I have written a book titled
#ReformingSocialMedia: Using Social Media to Glorify God Rather Than Self
that will be released soon?