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Facebook: A New Kind Of Predator

One of my last essays for a composition class was an opinion paper. I decided to write on a controversial topic amongst Christians: Facebook. Please enjoy, but realize that this was a five paragraph essay, not an exhaustive source of information on all things relating to Facebook and Christians. I am merely expressing my opinion, as this is not a persuasive paper.

Facebook: A New Kind Of Predator

Facebook, a relatively basic concept for social connection, has somehow affected the very core of American culture. What is it about Facebook, a seemingly simple idea, which has the power to influence an entire civilization? To answer this question, we must first understand the essence of this network. To begin with, a technical definition of Facebook is: “A social network upon which millions of users upload information about themselves for other users to see and respond.” An admittedly opinionated definition created from observation is this: “The internet breeding grounds of abundant narcissism.”

The effects of this social network, both positive and negative, can be seen everywhere. Its mark can be found  on relationships, marketing, entertainment, and society in general. In my own experience, when I meet another person for the first time, one of the first questions I have been asked is, “So… do you have a Facebook?” Instead of writing letters, calling, or emailing, individuals will message each other on Facebook. In advertisements, companies will promote their Facebook pages, saying something along the lines of, “Like us on Facebook! If you like us, we will give you free coupons!” all because advertising has been extremely effective through Facebook. Its name is plastered all over the walls of entertainment. “Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Facebook!” is the petition of every business, movie maker, music artist, and TV show. These are only a few examples, but it is already obvious Facebook has had significant influence upon our culture. This is a fact.

Several questions naturally arise when we examine this social network’s power over both individuals and industries: How is Facebook having such unprecedented effects on those who use it, or even how is it gathering as many users as it has? The answer is simple. It preys upon one of the most basic weaknesses of human nature- our pride. This tactic has proven to be extremely effective, and has been used countless times in both the marketing and entertainment industries. In every commercial on television, a company is telling the viewer he needs its product, as it attempts to stir up greed in his heart. The viewer starts to feel as if he is less of a person because he does not own this product, or he feels that his friends will view him as less of a person because he does not have what they have. This approach to advertising and by extension, reasoning, is actually a logical fallacy. It is an Ad Populum fallacy: appeal to the masses. Facebook uses this strategy, but with a different slant. It does not take advantage of the greed of the user; rather, it preys on his conceit. I dare the reader to log on to his Facebook account and scroll down the news feed with this in mind. How many status updates are all about “me”? How many are about how the user is having such a terrible day, or how he did not get what he wanted out of a relationship? On the other side of the spectrum, how many are about life being just a big bowl of cherries? I challenge the user to click on any random teenage public school user, and try to calculate the number of pictures he has taken of himself with his cell phone in a restroom mirror! If math is not my reader’s strong point, he might find this quite difficult! Now, one should not misunderstand, Facebook does not cause the user to become more selfish or conceited; it just accentuates and provides another channel through which those negative traits can thrive.

Those who have Facebook accounts should not only be wary of the ways it can allow one to practice selfishness, but also the effect it can have on one’s time. Facebook, like almost all other forms of media, is an easy way to waste time. A quick check of one’s account can slip into an examination of other user’s accounts, which can lead to hour-long chats with friends and so on. On Facebook, ten minutes can evolve into two hours without notice! Once again, this is a negative consequence that can be controlled. Facebook does not make or require one to use it for an extended period of time; it merely provides another venue for one to waste time.

In spite of Facebook using such tactics to gain users, it is not evil, and can actually be utilized for great good! I know many true Christians who have Facebook accounts and operate them to point others to the Word of God, ask for prayer, and give glory to the Lord in general. This is an extremely good way to manage a page. It is also a great tool to reconnect with old friends. It is a pleasure to search out friends to discover how they have grown physically and in the Lord. Much redemption can be found in Facebook if one manipulates it for the proper purposes and does not allow it help him sin. I would recommend a Facebook account to anyone as long as he has disciplined himself regarding time, and would advise that one apply discernment in any posts.

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Uncategorized

Have You Died?

I am a believer in Jesus Christ. A Christian. Not because I have done something special deserving of salvation; in fact, it is quite the opposite. I am saved for the reason that I believe that nothing I can possibly do, no task I can ever accomplish can make me worthy of salvation. Nothing can rescue my soul aside from the perfect sacrifice of Christ, a replacement for the wrath which I deserve. In that moment of repentance and faith in His divine interposition, something extraordinary happened. I died for the first time, and was born for the second. A part of me that was enslaved to self and sin died at that point, and something truly beautiful was birthed in its stead. I am now a slave of Christ after having been reborn. To get to this point, I had to experience death, in a spiritual sense. In fact, it could be called a spiritual suicide to self. Having died, I found life. The words of Jesus in Luke 9:23-24 are my basis for this word-picture:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

Anyone who is a true believer must experience this death. If one has not realized that salvation takes a life change, I would strongly urge him to question it. I, as a young child, was mistaken about my faith, not realizing that being a Christian means I have to kill myself(figuratively) and let Christ mold me into an image of Himself. I deceived myself and thought I could continue to live sinfully as long as I read my bible and attended church. I now see the truth, but I believe and know that many others share this misconception, especially those in the “Bible Belt”. Dear reader, please examine yourself. Have you fallen prey to this line of false thinking?

If one has examined himself and found true repentance, then this post serves as a challenge. Lately, I have found my love for Christ growing, as I see how undeserving and unworthy I am of His grace. The fact that He would still love me in spite of all I have done and continue to do causes me to love Him with a greater fervency. Coming right along with this growth, I am seeing sinful habits and patterns that have slipped into my speech and actions. Also, I am seeing how easy it is to forget my death to sin with friends who are fellow believers. Not necessarily because my friends and I are saying and doing things which are even widely considered wrong, but because of what we are not saying and doing. James 4:17 says,

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Many times, I will myself with my friends talking about things and doing things which are not only worthless, but stupid, for hours upon end. I am dead to sin and alive to Jesus Christ! Why would I allow these habits of sinfulness and times of worthlessness into my life? Paul said in Philippians 1,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.

To live is Christ! I am reborn; alive to Christ. If I claim Him, I must be an image of Him when I am with believers and unbelievers alike. So such foolishness must be eliminated, and replaced with a kind of fruitful labor, namely love. In every task I undertake, every interaction I have with others, and every thought that enters my mind, I must remember that I am spiritually dead to my selfish desires. If the reader is a believer, remember this fact in everything you do. If the reader has not died to self by repentance, he is lost unto himself, destined for hell. Please, examine yourself. Have you truly died to sin?

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Struggles, The Word

Love As He Loves You. Forgive As He Forgives You.

To all of you who were wondering, the reason I haven’t made a post in a while is because I have been struggling. I’ve been struggling against the sin of the flesh, and it’s been harder than anything I have ever dealt with aside from when I first believed. Praise be to God, for He is strong when we are weak! The only way I can overcome these sins that infect my thoughts and actions is through Christ, as Colossians 1:13 and 14 say:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Oh, His beloved, precious Son, how I long to look like Him! I thank and praise my Father for giving me such hard times, because when we suffer and overcome our sin through Him is when we tend to grow the most.

My struggle was with three sins in particular: jealousy, bitterness, and selfishness. It all starts with the way I view my friends. For the longest time, I have viewed the majority of my friends as the world views them: sources of pleasure, wanting all of their attention to feel good about myself, feeling important, or even loved, in an ungodly way. What was this view of my friends coming from? Selfishness. I did not pursue relationships with them so that they would be built up in Christ, or encouraged by me to follow Him with more of a passion. If I may pause from the story to challenge you. Examine your relationships, your friendships. Have you sought out friendships to encourage the other person in Christ? Or have you chased them because that other person made you feel good about yourself. What about your love relationships? Have you truly kept Christ at the center of that relationship, so that the one you love will look more like Christ in every aspect? Or have you pursued that person they made you feel loved, important, beautiful, or handsome, as the case may be. Please, examine closely. If looking more like Christ is not at the center of your relationship, and it’s goal is not the glory of God, then your friendship with that person at this moment has no eternal benefit. What matters in the end of all things? That, in your life, you glorified God in all things. So glorify Him in your friendships.

So, as an effect of me not having my friendships centered around the right thing, when someone else came along, who was another close friend of mine, and stole the spotlight from me, what do you think my reaction was? Jealousy. The point of my relationships with these people was my own pleasure, so when a friend came along who was more entertaining than me in almost every way, my reaction was jealousy. When he was there, my friends ignored me for him. He deprived me from feeling good about myself. I tried to change how I acted, so that I could get that prideful feeling from my friends again, but it didn’t work. I was still ignored, and that made me angry. I wasn’t content with Christ, with how He had made me, and I still desired that prideful feeling I got from my friends so much.

But, I was also committing another sin towards this person in response to past sins committed by him. Bitterness. I forgave him for what he did, with my lips, but hadn’t truly forgiven him in my heart. I felt a festering bitterness towards him for what he had done, and this made it hard for me to even be around him.

Through help from my parents and the careful examination of God’s Word, I saw my sin, and I saw what I needed to change in my actions and thoughts toward my friends. Love. I need to love them as Christ loves them. As Christ loves me. Forgiveness. I need to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. If I am to be like Christ in everything, then I should not be hesitant to pour out forgiveness upon my friends. Christ forgave me of my vile sins against Him, an eternally holy God who loves me, by dying on a cross for my sins. So why should I be so hesitant to forgive a friend who has offended me? Here are some passages that have encouraged me, showed me my sin, and what I need to do to combat that sin. I have put off the sin, and now I put on Christ’s love, and forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8a: 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 3:12-14 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

I pray that you who are reading will examine yourself according to the Scripture here, and that you will be able to see through the Lord where you have failed, and where you have done well. If you have failed, repent, and pursue Christ’s righteousness, love, and forgiveness. If you have succeeded in these things, rejoice, give the glory to God, and continue to excel still more.

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