by Rob Tims
More than 10 years ago, I had the privilege of writing an article for Youthworker Journal, a thoughtful periodical for pastors and others working with teens. The article was about a fast-growing website called MySpace. Millions of students were using dial-up internet to customize a web page with music, art, photographs, poems, essays, and the like, and many were doing so not realizing that the internet is forever. That is, many students looked to MySpace as the one place where they could be authentic. Authenticity and vulnerability are good, but different venues and relationships require different levels of both, and it didn’t take long before students soon realized that maybe it wasn’t all that wise to showcase one’s deepest thoughts to a world that’s not always receptive to authenticity.
Therefore, social media venues like MySpace and Facebook soon thereafter quickly became places not where you could be yourself, but where you had to be your best self. Your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts likely mirror this policy. Only the most flattering photographs and punny posts will do. Safe and savvy is preferred to sordid and sorry.
We have Adam and Eve to thank for this. We wonder who we are because we lost who we are in the Fall. Just as they hid when God searched for them, we hide from God and others. We fear who we are and we fear being known for who we are because we don’t even really know who we are.
Just like He did with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, God comes to us in such a way that helps us find who we are. We experience truth and love … consequences and grace. God restores us to Himself so we can know who we are.
We use social media to put forward the best version of ourselves, but honestly we’re terrified of being truly known. We fear committing to important relationships and even loving someone enough to be vulnerable with them. Like Adam and Eve, we play hide-and-seek from God and others because we fear being discovered. But really that’s what we crave, someone will love us and accept us.
As it turns out, that Someone could only be Jesus.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.