We must fully recapture what grace really means before we understand how to use social-media.
I wish I was about 15 pounds of muscle heavier.
I wish I was able to dunk like Kobe Bryant.
I wish I was able to raise meat chickens and farm off the land.
I wish I was like Joe Rogan.
I wish I lived in a van and traveled across America.
These are all the things that my YouTube “Recommended” section reveals about me. Beyond that there are certain “How-To” videos to live a life of productivity, accomplishment, relevance, and fitness! Chalk it up to my lack of self-discipline but none of them have been able to fully deliver on the life I wish I could accomplish for myself.
But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to convince myself and others that I’m a finished product. That’s at least one of the inevitable temptations of social media: to present ourselves as somewhere near perfect. Anything less than that is either turned into a meme, comedy – or both.
Unfortunately, church leaders, Christians, and whole churches fall prey to this same temptation. The minute an inspiring worship leader or incredible communicator is seen on social media – it is often seen through the lens of a finished product, ready for consumption and criticism.
There is very little room for journey, confusion, frustration, or searching in the world of social media – which has become the main world in which we self-communicate.
If the church portrays perfection, without sharing the process, then all we provide people is the motivation to perform and to pretend. We already have that inborn critic telling us that we should have figured things out by now. But the minute we see other people who are convincingly put together then the only thing we can manage is to pretend along with them and pray nobody is the wiser.
The overriding temptation on social media is to showcase perfection. But what if the real power of the platform is to show something entirely different?
We all know what perfect is supposed to look like. Ironically enough, it’s the process that goes undocumented, hidden away, and airbrushed. But the real power of our platforms exists in sharing the process rather than the pretended perfection!
This is because victory in this life is not something we arrive at by our own power at all! Instead of the self-triumphant victory we imagine, victory is not properly ours at all. It’s God’s.
Psalm 3:8, “Victory belongs to the LORD!”
Proverbs 21:31, “A horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.”
Isaiah 43:11, “I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no Savior but Me.”
We don’t overcome addiction, depression, anxiety, insecurity, any and all sin without falling on our knees in self-defeat, self-hopelessness and in prayer. Over and over and over and over and over again.
If you doubt me, just reflect on what Paul has to say in Ephesians 1,
God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.Ephesians 1:4-6
Did you catch that? What Paul is saying here is that God’s victory in and through what Jesus Christ accomplished was planned from the very beginning of time! Now, this might not seem controversial at first, but then consider that what Paul is referring to is the worst thing in human history: the execution of God Himself!
In other words, the very worst sin ever to be committed was co-opted by God as the very means of His victory! It was by sin and death that God triumphed!
By our sin God shows us that we don’t have what it takes.
By our sin God shows us that He’s the only hope we have.
By our sin God shows us that His love extends to the depths of depravity – and beyond – for us.
But how about our less drastic failings, such as our pettiness, our inadequacy, our insufficiency, our boring personality, our lack of talent, our awkwardness? What does God do with all of those? Paul responds:
God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.1 Corinthians 1:28-29
What this means for you and me is that it’s precisely by allowing God’s grace to meet us in our sin and in our total patheticness that we grow. The real power exists in the process of meeting God again and again and again! That’s what growth looks like! It doesn’t look like the finished product (there is no such thing in this life anyways)! It looks like falling into the arms of our Father every single time we fail! Because with each failure we grow to understand another dimension of His love for us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8
The operative word here is still.
Still a mess.
Still a wreck.
Still an addict.
Grace refuses to meet us anywhere except for the places where we still haven’t a clue about what to do, where to go, or why things are the way they are. If God seems distant, perhaps it’s because you’re running from the very place He insists on meeting you.
Please don’t misunderstand me: I do think that real wholeness can be achieved in this life with the grace that God provides us, it’s just that His grace doesn’t just give us a real shot at perfection it also gives us the permission to reveal our imperfections – indeed, to boast in them as Paul did (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Showcasing those imperfect moments of the process would certainly cause a photoshopped world, bored with “perfect,” to stop scrolling.