Saturday, April 23, 2016

"The Hidden Life"- Your Key to Successful Social Media

One of the great challenges of Christian discipleship is a faithful, energetic, and throughly Biblical response to a daily question...."Now what?" 

It comes right after we have chosen to believe there is a meaningful answer when we asked, "So what?".

It is so much harder than we ever imagined it to be..... actually, impossible!

Our human nature is to answer that question with a list of actions..... "What are we now to do?"
And Jesus constantly has to re-arrange the priority... 'Who am I to BE?"

But the Bible is not an instruction book ... it is a prescription book. And like any prescription, patients must be very careful and diligent... this is powerful stuff- but it is contained in careful boundaries to avoid mis-use and abuse. And it is governed under the DOCTOR'S oversight.

So God, who NEVER, stops pressing, lifting, prodding, pulling, caressing me to better pastures... continues to do so... and the lessons I am learning I write and tell.... and because I am still way too prideful and selfish- it creates a mixed agenda... I do this as an exercise... everything I do has some stain of sin on it- but in faith I ask the Lord to allow it to be effective in glorifying Him and helping others.  And then on the backside, I always know the danger- making myself look good... seeking approval and applause... adding good deeds of outweigh the bad... a useless make-up attempt to avoid my real problems and failures....

So I wanted one more time to address the ever growing problem and possibility of the explosion of the virtual world and my ongoing and active participation in it....  it is a reality and a non-reality.. it is, after all, a code of dust that matters...but without true significance.

By the way.. my journey in this is mixed with a grand paradox I find in Scripture- the push- pull command to speak out and shut up...... like any paradox, it makes sense on a full investigation... and like any God paradox produces the tension to keep us on a narrow road with ditches on both sides.

Are you old enough to remember the Don Francisco song... "I Gotta Tell Somebody"?

There are times Jesus said 'Don't tell' and, by golly,... they did anyway...

Be patient with me here- I know each of these has a context:

And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it” (Matt 9:30).

Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them” (Mark 1:43-44).

When Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead,  he “strictly charged them that no one should know” about it (Mk. 5:43).

On still another occasion, when Jesus healed a man who was deaf and mute, he charged the entire crowd to tell no one. “But the more he charged them,” it says, “the more zealously they proclaimed it” (Mk. 7:36).

And the Leper? After Jesus said 'Don't tell anyone'... Mark records....

But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter (Mk. 1:45)

But there are times Jesus said "Tell"-

After the dramatic healing of the Gerasene demoniac from the power of Satan, and the man “begged that he might be with him… Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you’” (Lk. 8:38-39)

And on Palm Sunday, when the religious rulers and authorities asked Jesus to silent the crowd as the cheered 'Hosanna"- The New Living Translation puts His reply like this:
 "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!"

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
And the final command of Jesus involves telling AND teaching:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

So....  do these individual situations give us direction to whether we should or should not post to social media... what do we say... how much do we do it?

Not surprisingly, I found recent help from an old source.... B.B. (Benjamin Breckinridge) Warfield, professor of theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921.

I read his commentary recently on "The Hidden Life"- thoughts about Colossians 3:4

If then you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

So, please permit me to let an old saint...who could not have imagined Twitter or Facebook or Snap Chat.... orient us with a foundational truth of Christian discipleship.

'If then you have been raised" is an assumption of a fact.... that we died- this is explicit in the previous chapter 2- we died and were buried with Christ - (an amazing chapter by the way- incorporating circumcision and baptism in the imagery)

SO the life we have is a 'hidden life' - but we are not absent. 

So what does 'Hidden' mean:

I like what B.B. suggests here- I took his eloquent language and paraphrased it in a much clumsier but comprehensible way...

Our hidden life is:
being good without understanding
doing good without recognition
accomplishing good without applause,
It is also a quiet life

So what does this mean? When we post, publish, pin, tweet.... we are not representing ourselves primarily... we are choosing, walking, speaking, and doing in the name of another- our loving Savior and King.

If our life comes in conflict with the world- we choose the King's way- regardless of the consequences. Indeed, we should expect criticism, misunderstanding, and different forms of persecution.

Now- there are  HUGE AND COOL motivations / applications of this.......


B.B. says our motivation involves past, present, and future realities:

Past motive: Reflection on our  our salvation. The cross was proof of the powerful sacrificial love of Jesus. Your response to the good news was so powerful it resulted in  a new birth and eternal life!

Present motive- Christ is no longer humbled on that cross...He is now an exalted king. We are one with him, Therefore we should walk with a nobility.

 Future Motivation- there will be a reward and a vindication before others. Wait for it. 
Here is how B.B. said it:

“When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall we also with him be manifested in glory." The vindication, even before men, will come. We shall not always be misunderstood; we shall have the reward. And what a reward! Co-manifestation with Christ in glory! Do not our hearts spring within us with hope and joy!”


All of this... and now, here we are- back at social media......


By all means, Christians should participate in social media. It is a fast moving marketplace of the global community of humans. But using it can create a danger of importance. It is useful but not ultimate.

My suggestion is to test yourself and unplug at various seasons and for various times. 

And one I am adding for the immediate future. I am going to get a normal alarm clock and plug my phone up at night in another room. It is a huge time robber... and sleep disturber.

Keep God's Word as the compass of your life. The flood of messaging in this world is not bound or subject to God's Word- there is little virtue in the virtual world.

Don't scan the Bible- it has to 'richly dwell in you' .


This seems simple... but the deadliest disease of social media is that you become the hero of your story and the whole world is noticing you.... DANGER-DANGER-DANGER

The virtual world DOES NOT LOVE YOU BACK. It is a huge liar and unfaithful partner. It pushes a false perception.... and Satan jumps in the middle of it with His whisper campaign "Look the whole world is doing awesome... poor, pitiful you!"

Let Jesus and real people be the lover of your life.......


At the end of everyday... ask your King... His like and comment is the only thing that matters. Wait for Him and trust Him.


The internet isolates.... and it is not good for man to be alone... some people think they have hundreds of friends... but an avatar is not a real person... it may represent a real person...but like any online persona... it is flat... it is not flesh and blood.

I used to tell my football team-" that 21 year old beautiful girl in Los Angeles you are chatting with online is really a 65 year old man in a trailer down by the river"...... think about it. Again- not a lot of virtue in the virtual world!

1 or 2 actual human friends is more valuable than a billion online friends.... be careful....

God made faith a community exercise. It is no different than taking a stick out of a itself, it will smolder, smoke, and finally turn cold. You MUST make yourself find a community of believers and you MUST make time for them and you MUST forgive them of their shortcomings and hypocrisy as they do yours.

Struggling with this one? Go and serve someone.... it will kill the growing narcissism that is corrupting your heart.



The virtual world is a lighted carbon fantasy that is as useless as an old dead I-Phone....

Be real... Be honest- Authenticity gives real meat to your hidden life in Jesus. I believe it is immoral to have a fake online ID unless it is for purposes of protection from a real danger (like a missionary in a dangerous land). Instantly delete ANY fake online personas or they will destroy the real you!

Humans always default to moral codes to lift us up and bind others..... don't do this...

Continually point to the glorious gospel - it is our only HOPE. the rest of Colossians after this glorious statement....

Here is just a piece of it's beauty...

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

This includes your on-line life..........

The WORLD needs truth....... and that is a PERSON.... When people see you..pray that they see the Savior!

FINAL ADVICE: Be wise- you don't have to share your deepest secrets in a wide open way either- show some discretion..... Be optimistic, honest.... but WISE. The world doesn't NEED to know some things about us!

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