Archive for July, 2014

In our opening our opening series of social networking/ media on Christian youths I laid a foundation as to what is the social network/ media; who is the Christian youth and why we have to examine the interaction of the former and the latter. This rest on the undeniable fact that:
Nothing has so touched entirely the soul of human existence; after God, it is the social Network/ Media.
In today’s dealings, nothing has so exerted direct impact on the lives of of both men and women alike; young and old; rich and poor; the farmer and the Teacher alike; the student and the working class; the unbeliever and the child of God- nothing has so alter our lifestyle, culture, principles, norms dreams, aspirations; even our society in a whole…but the social Network/ Media.
From the African perspective, it use to be a “thing” of the western culture. Today, the story is different: it has broken into our homes- our very living rooms. Even the conservative Arab societies that have struggled to close their doors to “western encroachment” can now no longer keep them away. Thanks to satellite TVs (DSTV on the fore), internet, mobile technology, etc.
The social Media/ Network has crossed boundaries, it has bridge gaps, connected continents, linked nations. It has even surmounted great hurdles and barriers of the most hostile communities of the world, even those against the gospel. What a wonder! Isn’t this a great tool for Christian evangelism? Well this is a thought to be discussed in upcoming series.
Therefore, what is this that has so touched the soul of human existence? Shouldn’t it be a concern to the Believer? Let me quickly say, it is nearly impossible to be alive, at least in any developed, developing or underdeveloped society and not make any kind of contact with any of the social medias/ networks.
As a result, what is the consequence of the impact of social media/ Network on the life of a believer? How must this be handled? (Please, refer to the first in this series. Particularly: Principles for Engagement in Social Networking for a Believer). In establishing the effect of social Networking/ the media on the life of a Believer, I’d like to first establish that Social Media/ Network in a whole is not a bad invention. It is not a sin therefore, to engage in social networking or interact with the media. What makes it bad or a sin is how we use it or what we use it for or in a broader sense, how we allow its bad influence to rub on us and thus affect our walk with God. Of course, therefore, the social media has advantages which it presents to us. Rather than say advantages and disadvantages, we will examine its effects on the Believer, especially youths, and the implication of such.
Some of these include;
Deep engrossment/ abuse of the Social Networks/ Media- 1 Corinthians 7.31 warns that those who make use of the things of this world must be careful not to be engrossed or deeply involved in/with them or carried away by them. What has been the attitude of young people towards these things today? It is pertinent to know and admit that the internet, mobile communication, the satellites, home videos, etc, all, like drugs, have great tendencies to be addictive. They are designed to be interactive, thus have a way of engaging the users’ whole sense. So, when the Christian youth does not take note of this, the problem begins. Deep engrossment or uncontrolled use of the social media disassociates us from faith-building lifestyles. For example, a survey I read some years ago suggests that many of the young people who use blackberry smart phones end up sleeping off most nights- holding their blackberry in their hands. (Funny enough, it has happened to me). This suggest excessive us. Now if Blackberry use is the last thing a young person will do every night before sleep and very early in the mornings; where is then the place of devotions in the morning and night. Some might argue that devotions must not necessarily be early in the morning. But the issue is what eludes your heart and seizes your passion stays on the fore of your daily interaction. Therefore, this uncontrolled use has weakened faith building lifestyles like devotions, fellowships, meditations, reaching out, etc.
Many times, young people have been found “2go-ing”, “whatsapp-ing”, “facebook-ing” or even watching videos or listening to music with their media devices- in church- during worship. This denotes sheer addiction due to deep uncontrolled engrossment in social media activities. It has caused Christian youths to lose reverence for God. Mike Everett, in his piece on social media, points out that “the seduction of social media can suck us in, and before we know it we are becoming more influenced by the noise around us than we are by the word of God working within us.” As a result, we ought to strike some balance between our relationship with God (…time spent with Him…studying the Word, fellowshipping with Believers, praying, etc) and social network/ media involvement.
Decision-making/ Interaction with others-
The goal of interaction or socialization or relationship (whether human or electronic) is INFLUNCE! All forms of interaction yields influence; i.e., whether those involved are aware of it or not, one is influencing the other. Hanging out with a group of friends engaging in bad behavior and say you are not involved is a lie to one’s self. For the impact is gradual and in time one will find one’s self actively involved on the group’s bad behavior.
Inferentially, the Christian youth must be aware that he/she is constantly being been influenced by what he/she see or hear or engaged in on the social media; and more importantly, know that they also influence those with whom they interact either positively or negatively. For example, the “African culture” has been infiltrated by the Western lifestyle. How? Via the social media of course. Step out into our streets and see; from the mode of dressing, the way we speak, act (conduct ourselves), interact, etc. Very heartbreaking is the sight of the negative effects of this influence. The media has gone further to influnce our belief about love, relationship, sex, marriage etc. some years back I was talking to a sister about what they learn from these soap operas (My Eternal, Last Chance, etc) they watch: she proudly shared that they learn about how to love their spouses; about life; relationship, etc. [The media today is filled with lies.] check the lives of the so called celebrities and Actors you are looking up to; they can hardly even keep their homes, most live in divorce, they sleep around; having one scandal or the other. With all humility is ask, how can such a person teach you about love or life, sex, relationship or marriage? How? Where is God’s place in the whole matter?
What we learn from the social media as whole must not be the basis of our decision making in life. This is to say, we must not allow it to model our lives because the Word of God must be our yardstick in interacting with the World.
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed there to according to Thy Word. Thy word have I hid in mine heart I might not sin against Thee.” Psalms 19:9,1.
God’s word must be our only influence…allow it to engulf you.
Pornography/ Sex-Provoking Clips and Song-
The social media/ Network has been the Fastest Avenue for the spread of sex clips, pornographic pictures, sex-provoking songs, sex items, etc., among young people. Some few years ago an act called “SEX-TING” came up. This refers to the sharing of nude pictures amongst friends using mostly MMS. This means you don’t have to do online or use words. Young people have also been found to engage in sex chats on social networks, even via phone calls, on 2go, BBM, whatsapp, etc. Many engage in sex online. The internet is filled with hundreds of sex/ pornographic sites. To bring it even closer, social networks are hosting (either with or without their knowledge) sex chat rooms, groups, pages, etc as the case maybe; on facebook, whatsapp, 2go, BBM, etc. the internet has developed its own world of sexual immorality.
What about the phones of young people today? Unfortunately Christians inclusive- it has become a harbor of blue films, sex photos, sex-provoking songs and music videos, etc. Friends, I do not give you tales. I write you what I have confirmed first hand in my years of interacting with young people, their phones, and the internet. If you are not ready to keep a working relationship with God, then the social media should be the last place you ‘wanna’ be or engage in- trust me! For you’ll be totally lured and be a tool for mass destruction.
“For this is the will of God, even our sanctification, that yea should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to posses his vessel in sanctification and honour.” 1Thesselonians 4.3-4.
It is God’s will that we all remain sexually pure.
Idols and gods-
Jefferson Bethke, our famous guy of Spoken Words said:
”We mock and we laugh at the Israelites’ Golden Calf but we do the same thing right back it just looks a little different than that. So question: what’s on your throne… what defines you? What do you give ultimate worth? And what if taken will bring ultimate hurt? Now see, that is your god…”
Our BlackBerry phones, iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Tablets, DSTVs, soap operas, internet, social network…have succeeded over the years in becoming the god of many. They have become the things we value more than mid-week services, church bible study, youth fellowship, personal quie-time, evangelism, prayers, etc. Can you imagine the sudden swap!
Many young people prefer to hang-out on facebook than go for youth fellowship; to watch the popular “10am to 11am” morning program than to spend time praying for a friend. Others could have sleepless nights when they lost their blackberry or iPad but would not even be sad over a lost sinner. What an irony! Some would rather get an iphone than lend the money for a friends school fees or pay to watch football instead of giving a friend lunch money.
Our craze or love for the media must not supersede our devotion to God. When this happens, we begin to make idols of them.
”For zeal for Thy house hath eaten me up…” Psalms 69.9
What takes your passion and zeal? What are you most enthusiastic about? When it is other than God then you are not on the right path.
If you have been following you must have noticed all of the effets discussed above are negative. That is not to say that there are no positive effects for believers, no. There are, but these ones and more have threatened our faith over time.
One great importance of the social media especially to the church is the fact that it serves a great tool for Christian evangelism. (This effect will be featured exclusively in an up-coming piece). This is because social networking sites and of course the media, cut across boundaries. As stated in the introductory article, the social media has “penetrated the hardest of barriers; they have broken the strongest of resistance” all to unite different civilizations and cultures- it is therefore a sure-effective tool for Christian evangelism.
Social network/ media has also bridged the gap among different Christian groups and Ministers all over the World. It has facilitated interaction amongst believers worldwide. Sharing challenges, ideas, and testimonies…about what God is doing in other Nations. Instant needs for intercession has also been broadcasted severally across the world via the media. In addition, social networks have been a point of Christian youth interaction. For example COCIN has its facebook Group [CHURCH OF CHRIST IN NATIONS (COCIN)], COCIN RCC JOS Youths also have their facebook Group (COCIN YOUTH FELLOWSHIP RCC JOS), and so on. There we have nice time discussing and sharing about God online. I also operate a Christian Youth Blog “SOCIAL NETWORK/MEDIA AND THE CHRISTIAN YOUTH”; you can find that on: http://www.realphidims.wordpress.com. We also operate a facebook “PRAYER ROOM” where we prayer on matters with testimonies. On Whatsaap we also interact on the RCC Jos Youth platform.
Here is the bottom-line: to live for Jesus even while online, not change our colours in anonymity.
In conclusion, to build a healthy online lifestyle, we must try to answer the questions: what do I do when online? How much time do I spend online? How do I interact online? Do I glorify God? What if my parents, youth leader, Pastor or even Jesus check my phone would they be pleased? Do I have dark corners on my laptop or phone? Do I have secret facebook, 2go, or twitter accounts with which is do evil? Finally, do I remain a believer even when online?
God help us build a healthy christian lifestyle as we run this race.

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