The most subtle vices in our lives are the ones that everyone seems to be “okay” with. And that goes for our online activities as well. Whenever we open our web browsers or social media apps, whether it’s Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, or Netflix, we’re entering a world with a laundry list of “acceptable” sins. Well… acceptable in the eyes of the world. But as Christians, we often fail to realize it when we are allowing the culture to shape our lives when it should be the other way around.
Hello, Weirdos – I’m Pastor Darren – welcome to the Church of the Undead.
I’m the host of “Weird Darkness”, but here in the Church of the Undead I can share ideas not related to my other podcast – ideas which are relevant to those who suffer with depression, need some encouragement, and for those who love (or are just curious about) the God of the Bible. And it doesn’t matter if you are a Weirdo-in-Christ or just a Weirdo – everyone is welcome here at the Church of the Undead. And I use the word “undead” because here we are DEAD to sin and ALIVE in Christ! If you want to join this Weirdo congregation, just click that subscribe or follow button!
Full disclosure – I might use the term “pastor” because I’ve branded this feature as a church – but I do not have a theology degree, nor did I ever go to Bible college. I’m just a guy who gave his life to Christ in 1989 and has tried to “walk the walk” every since – and has stumbled a lot along the way – because, like everybody else, I am an imperfect, heavily-flawed human being. So please don’t take what I say as gospel; dig into God’s word yourself for confirmation, inspiration, and revelation.
That being said, welcome to the Church of the Undead.
Being conformed to the world is easy–just be passive and let it happen. But honoring Christ takes constant active obedience through the power of the Spirit, as your mind is transformed by the Word and Power of God. Are you allowing God’s Word to shape your time online? What online sins are you tolerating in your own life and the lives of others? Here are a few online sins that, unfortunately, we seem to be okay with.
INDULGENCE: Should we really be bragging about how much we binge on Netflix? If we didn’t have the reassurance that literally everybody else does it, we would probably be a little ashamed to admit that “I sat in my bedroom, ate Pizza Rolls, and binge-watched ‘The Office’ for the past 12 hours.” We might as well say, “I have no self-control and my priorities are completely out of whack.”
“… but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.” (1 Timothy 5:6)
As Christians, we have been given the Holy Spirit who wages war against our flesh “to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17). Don’t allow your flesh to control your actions. Don’t waste away your days doing things that don’t profit you or others. And perhaps, try “binging” on God’s Word – you might be shocked by the change it produces.
MATERIALISM: The internet gives us the power to buy literally anything we want and have it delivered to our front door – without ever leaving the couch. Are you constantly placing orders on Amazon because you simply can’t get enough?
Hold on… I should probably rephrase that. Am I constantly placing orders on Amazon because I simply can’t get enough? (Ouch… that one hurts.)
Beware of filling your life with things. The more attention you give to materialism, the less attention you’ll give to eternity. Maybe ask yourself if you are entangled in materialism?
A life of materialism is a life that hasn’t experienced the eternal joys that Christ provides. We buy things not necessarily because we need them – but because we want them. This often hits me at my weakest time of day – just before I go to sleep. My guard is down and I will see an add on Instagram or Facebook and think, “Oooh – I gotta have that!” And then three weeks later it arrives and I wonder what the heck I was thinking. But it did feel good at the time I was buying it. Unfortunately, the things of this world will all pass away, but you have been given heavenly, eternal treasures that no one can take from you. Live for eternity – not for “stuff.” When this life is over and you stand before God, those Amazon Prime Day deals you missed out on won’t seem as important to you.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
PRIDE: Social media is a great place to subtly brag about your accomplishments. And just because you preface it with the phrase “incredibly humbled for the opportunity to…” and follow it up with #blessed, does not mean you’re not trying to parade how great you are. If you’re tempted by pride, don’t forget who you would be without God. Quick answer… you’d be nothing. You wouldn’t exist.
When you post something online, ask yourself if you are bringing unnecessary attention to yourself or if you are hoping to elicit comments that feed your own ego. This is a really tough one for me, because anytime something great happens I immediately want to jump online and tell all of you on my Facebook and Twitter, and then jump over to my Patreon members and tell them. But if I look back on the instances I’ve done that – I have to admit that a good portion of the time it was simply my humble way of boasting or hoping to see “attaboy” comments to my posts.
To God, pride is one of the ugliest sins because it means you are seeking glory for yourself – which is something God alone deserves. He is the only one who deserves glory and praise. That being said, social media provides us with an exciting opportunity to spread God’s fame to a huge audience. Just don’t try to steal that spotlight in the process of doing so.
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
SLANDER: The internet is the #1 place on this planet where we can slander and mock people without the fear of being punched in the face immediately. We typically are far more bold behind a keyboard than we are in person. Social media can be ugly. Are you using your presence online to build others up… or to rip people to shreds?
The greatest revealer of our hearts are the words we say–and that includes the ones we type. If we only knew the pain that one slanderous word can cause–if we only knew what trials people are already facing before we start verbally tearing them down–we would think twice about spewing venom online. Use your words to heal and strengthen.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
QUARRELING: Often the precursor to slander, but not always. Some people get on Twitter and Facebook for no other reason than to pick a fight. Or check out the comments on YouTube – especially on videos of a political nature. Whoa, nelly! It’s like those people only created YouTube accounts so they could spew cyber-vile. How about you? Do you get a thrill out of attacking the claims of others? Winning an online argument might make you feel wise but the Bible says you might be broadcasting your own foolishness instead.
Do you know what takes far greater wisdom? Walking away from a fight without saying a word. Or in this case, clicking away to another page without commenting in an argumentative fashion. Most online debates are pointless anyway, because all the wise voices are the ones refraining from getting involved, which means 90 percent of the participants whose comments you are reading are most likely fools. I’d name off a few, but that would be slander – and we just talked about that. Since online debates are almost never profitable, they are almost never appropriate, and even more rarely needed.
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” (Proverbs 20:3)
VANITY: I tell ya, the internet – social media specifically – was built exactly to take advantage of this very human and destructive trait. Selfies. Selfies everywhere. You have to admit: we overdo it sometimes–bathroom-mirror selfies, car selfies, gym selfies, work selfies, and just-felt-pretty-today selfies. Does your Instagram document your life… or just the life of your face? There’s nothing wrong with taking a nice picture of yourself but social media can easily become an outlet for your own vanity. Christ saved us so that we no longer live for ourselves, but devote our lives to serving him and loving others. Use your social media to showcase God’s love, not yourself. And if you must take a selfie – please, no duckface. That’s not a Jesus thing, that’s just me imploring you.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
It’s hard to see others as more significant than yourself when you’re only focused on yourself.
DISCONTENTMENT: I heard someone once say: “Girls use Pinterest to create the life they wish they had.” Whether you’re creating boards for your “perfect engagement,” your “perfect house,” or your “perfect man,” are you using Pinterest to feed your own discontentment of the life you’re currently living?
No matter how good you have it, it’s so easy to think everyone else’s life is better than yours and the internet is here to make that possible. For Paul, contentment was sourced in Christ himself, not in his circumstances. You may not have the perfect house, perfect engagement, or the perfect man (or woman), but you do have a perfect Savior, and he has given “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
HYPOCRISY: We probably all know someone who does this – they post about themselves but you know that they aren’t really that way in real life. But what about you? Are you living two different lives? Are you trying to maintain a “social media” persona that is completely different than the real life you live day in, day out? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? – it’s like you’re always onstage playing a role, never having the opportunity to step offstage and be your true self. Not only would this qualify you as a hypocrite – but you’re being like the pharisees. We typically associate “pharisaism” with legalism, but living a double-life is exactly what the Pharisees were guilty of in Jesus’ day. They outwardly lived one way in public, pretending to be noble, pious, and ultra-religious… but out of public they were nothing of the sort. They were pretenders. Instead of trying to maintain your social media persona, maybe take some time off to maintain your Christ-worshipper persona – and make it your real persona.
Followers of Christ are transformed from the inside out, not by putting on a mask. And for those of you who do devotions every day – if you do personal devotions mostly so you can post pictures of your Bible/coffee/notebook on Instagram instead of communing with your Savior, you’re missing out on the refreshing peace that only Christ can offer. Not to say you shouldn’t post about your bible study – just make sure you have the right motivation, which is not so you can look like a good little Christian to your online followers.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25)
JEALOUSY: Do you spend your leisure time watching the Insta Stories of people who are living your “dream life”? Are you growing bitter because of the success and prosperity of others? Beware. This bitter jealousy will lead to selfish ambition and ultimately toward destruction. Plus, as we just learned, a good portion of those people aren’t being their true selves anyway – they just have their social-media persona that they carefully craft to look a way that they personally aren’t in real life.
If you spend time gazing at “successful” people on social media and admiring them or wishing you had what they had, you’ll eventually find yourself despising those who have a “better” life than you – and also despising your own life – and then despising yourself. You’ll find yourself questioning God’s goodness. And all the while, you will be missing the story that God is writing for you right before your eyes. Don’t let jealousy cloud your view. God is writing a story for you. Rejoice in it.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:16)
HATRED: If there is one unwritten rule that I have discovered on social media, it’s that it is completely acceptable to spew hatred toward others if they hate you first. This is completely unchristian. Jesus Christ called us to a radically different manner of life–loving your enemies. Is your light shining online – or is your temper what is seen?
Every human being, friend or foe, is made in the image of God (and yes, despite what you might think, that includes political figures). If you really want to make an impact online, show love even toward those who hate you. Yes, it is natural hate your enemies online, but nothing about the Christian life should be natural.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
Hopefully this week’s message has brought you a bit of insight into how you spend time online and maybe gave you some things to think about regarding what you do and don’t do on social media. I would ask you to share this message on all of your social media to help others… but would that be self-indulgent? Would I be pharisaitical in asking that – a hypocrite? Okay, maybe I’m overthinking this. Whatever – I hope you have a blessed week – be it online or off!
This week’s message was adapted from an article by Aaron Berry entitled “Ten Online Sins We’re Apparently All Okay With”. I’ve linked to that article in the show notes.
And seriously, if you did like what you heard, share this episode with others whom you think might also like it. Maybe the person you share it with will want to join this Weirdo congregation too! To join this Weirdo family yourself, just click that subscribe or follow button! If you want to get in touch with me, you can find all of my own social media, along with a postal address, and other contact information at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find the daily Weird Darkness podcast if you like creepy true stories of the paranormal, unexplained, true crime, and all things strange and macabre. I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me, Weirdos. Until next time, Jesus loves you and so do I. God bless.