Posts Tagged ‘christian youths’

Over the years, the social media and the cyberspace has evolved to become user-friendly, personalized and easily accessible across different platforms. The internet and the social media has become so personalized that it becomes part of one’s life and become fun especially for young people.

This singular adaptive feature of the social media and the internet gives it acceptance and usage across large age groups; and makes it look & feel safe an environment. But the big question remains: is it that safe?

The major concern for us in answering this question today is to ascertain the nature of the internet and what we send into it.

Try to picture a standard sized swimming pool filled with water. Again, picture yourself throwing coins into the pools at different time intervals. Let it even take years so to say, the coins will still remain there and whenever they are needed, any good swimmer can dive in and find all the coins, with none missing. Draining the water even will not get any of them lost.

So it is with the cyberspace. The internet is such a place as the swimming pool described above.

195239547One thing the average internet user has not found out is that whatever you send into the internet can never be lost or deleted. Yes I mean nothing you ever post on the internet can ever be recalled. Again, yes, your delete key function is not for real.

The internet is one large black hole, and most people are not aware of. It is an embodiment that is not defined by space, whatsoever. I could say it is alive and real to this world, even to the world beyond as time will later prove.

So, whatever you release into this “intelligent embodiment” remains alive in it and could be recalled or retrieved in a hundred or even thousand years to come. That is why users must think about their future while using the internet & cyberspace. The delete key function can delete a file or document from a device but cannot erase the trace it leaves behind. That’s why advance recovery software today can retrieve lost/deleted files form any saving device.

Today, a lot has been made easy through technological advancement and these leaps in time should concern any young person out there using the net.

We now have “wayback machine”, a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive, which enables you to capture, manage and search collections of digital content without any technical expertise or hosting facilities. This means that this company host and manages contents from websites across the globe and can be gone back to in time.

This simply presupposes that in the nearest future [though this, I believe is already obtainable in advanced civilizations], employers of labor can simply get information about stuffs you have posted in the net, which could in turn promote or hunt you.

The government will someday have right to pull off private stuffs you might have been keeping away.

One of the costliest mistake to ever make as regards the internet is to believe it is safe. It is not. As a result, sexting has been on the rise. Sexting is the act of sending explicitly sexual messages or photographs between cell phones. Combining a sensual photo with text messages is creating a sext. Believing it’s a safe zone, many have hidden behind this mechanism to perpetrate evil. But this could only be for a while. All things online are very accessible.

Oversea, many universities have hired professionals to research what prospective students have released on the Internet. Most teens don’t look far enough into the future to actually see the big picture. Their world is immediate & that is dangerous.

Rather than follow the trend of the World as regards social media and the internet, young believers must explore productive ways to engage their world seeking positive ways to contribute excellently to our passing generation.

Consider the internet as an unimaginably large capacity external hard drive that collects information about not just things but people all over the world.

I strongly opine that the internet today, is mostly evolving to house the databases of people from around the world; including their locations, interests, life goals and aspirations, abilities, capabilities, etc. Such that they can be incapacitated at any time.

I fear that our Internet/digital tech companies are doing more than just providing portable and affordable internet services downloadto people around the world. They daily update their databases with your preferences, post and general data for only God knows what purpose.

Early 2013, a friend drew my attention to a warning that most sites will begin to require personal data of internet users when they come seeking information, to gain track of their activities online and most of them are for ungodly gains. I noticed the rapid increase of this demand in the years 2014-2015. Today, this reality is something else.

What should you post online? For me, The Bible’s Book of Philippians 4.8 answers this quiet well. It says: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

The truth is, whatever you should want to post online, on any social media platform should meet the above stated criteria. We must aim to exhort, encourage, grace and improve whoever we come in contact with.

We must bear it well in mind that someday whatever post online will either speak for or against us in near time to come. We should also hold on to the fact that whatever hidden things we harbor on our phones to the satisfaction of sinful nature is not secured no matter how much we keep it secure. Your devices [mostly android] are largely insecure by many instances. Many phones, emails, facebook accounts, etc are being hacked by the day.  Whatever the case, a big advice will be: do not keep personal stuff on your devices, because any grade one hacker can access most of it.

Therefore, Christian Youths must shun all forms of ungodly addiction and explore all means to feed on worthy things that will build and sustain the God-purity in them. We must be determined to stay pure even online. The internet as I have always said is meant to be a tool, one we can employ greatly for our good.

I must say at this point that, we can hardly guard against releasing our basic information to the world, e.g, the government and other agencies through forms we fill and other things. It might not mean anything to the average person now, but it amounts to a lot in the reign of the “strong man”. What will keep us apart is our unwavering faith in Jesus Christ when the time comes.

May we find grace to thrive in righteousness and share the same with our cyber-world.

 

The goal of every interaction is INFLUENCE! This truth has so many been unaware of. Whether you realize it or not, whether you affirm it or not, the aim of every form of engagement, relationship, whatsoever form of contact—influence is the end-game. The higher authority always greets the lower one. The great over the small, in this case.  Anyone, especially the devote child of God who is able to unravel the mystery of influence in any form of interaction will be mindful of what he/she interacts with and even so, to what extent they relate.

You are basically a product of Nature and Nurture. In other words, a product of Heredity (nature) and Environment (Nurture). Heredity refers to the gene interaction of your parents, thus you look like them; while Environmental factors means the influence that accrue from the society one grows up in, upbringing, etc. While Heredity forms the “plate” and “Blueprint” of the “you” that you know; the environmental becomes the pen that writes upon that “plate” or the “operating system” the “blueprint” runs by. This is a basic Psychological fact. The environment becomes the basic force that models the individual’s beliefs, values, norms; therefore breeding attitudes, character, etc. These include the physical, social, intellectual, even the spiritual environment. Simply put, what you read, watch, listen to, interact with forms the broad influence of your life. It will not be farfetched to say you are presently a product of all these things over the years. Those who disagree with this fact do so in ignorance due to the fact that the influence-process happens subconsciously i.e. below conscious awareness.

In fact, the reason why we are encouraged to keep constant proper communion with Christ is that the more time we spend with Him, the more we are transformed to become like Him. (2 Corinthians 3.18). The more He influences us to produce effective change- to become like Him. Why? Influence remains the key function.

Social Media craze has had a serious grip upon this generation over the past two decades. The media and social networks have served as a link to a large populace not only in Nigeria, but of the whole world. Business, investments, industries, etc; all have found blossom through the internet/media/social media.

This exposition does not intend to make useless the value of the media and social networks or denounce them as totally worthless, no! Neither is it to say that believers must all abstain from it. No. But all Believers must come to a stern realization that “the system of this World is not designed to make us succeed”, in fact it is put in place to destroy our faith! This is not a tentative guess, it is a reliable truth. Check the trend of things in this world, make your findings and evaluate. Also, Believers must make a resolve to deal shrewdly with things of this World, especially the internet, media and social networks as is our focus in this dealing. Make it a habit not to lightly believe everything that comes out of the media! For it is highly orchestrated. Learn to sieve whatever you get from the media. Because when addiction to social media sets in, like other forms of addiction, you don’t care whatsoever…you just “wanna” get more of it. Thus we must instill discipline and order as we relate with the social media.

About Influence again, the greater influence the smaller. Even though this might not really matter when addiction sets in…it becomes only a matter of gratification to satisfy the desire to always connect. Influence cannot be seen, it can only be beheld. Its impact is just made manifested. As Myles Munroe would put it, when purpose [of a thing] is not known abuse is inevitable. So when abuse sets in, addiction is not far away, it follows. Thus influence cannot be regulated. If control is not exercised over our relationship with the social media. Believers become the slave to it. And Paul, cautions and advice that we must become slaves to nothing, especially of this world except to Jesus, of whom he is.

Influence as it is, becomes the point of making of actions, attitudes, character, and indeed behavior. We build our values, beliefs and life principles at the “gate” of influence.  We must first greet with the Word daily before we meet the World we live in daily so as to counter this effect as Believers. A question I ask myself as a social media user is: who is exerting the greater influence over the other…the social media or I? I suggest every Believer-social media user must honestly answer that question. I just hope the older generation does not perceive this question to be only for the younger ones who are using facebook, twitter, whatsapp, BBM and the likes of them. This also includes the general media; entertainment media and other forms of media engagement.

In addition, we need to constantly ask ourselves; how do I use the internet (social media) and even more importantly, how does the internet (including social media) use me? Also, how does my does my decisions and goals dictate my behavior on the internet even most importantly; at what point and how does the applications, networking, processes, people I meet online influence me? How is that changing my behavior and as a result, my life?

Is it also true that whenever you come online, your use of these social networks is PRODUCTIVE?

What forms the major INFLUENCE in your life? The Media/Social Media/Internet? Or the sheer and powerful Word of God?

This is my new-found philosophy: that if I must touch the highest Heaven, if I must access the deepest depth; if at all I must access deep secrets as pertaining to the Kingdom; if I must plunge into that ever-flowing spiritual river; if I must tap into spiritual visions in highest realms, deep truths of God,  then I must reshuffle my table of Influence, removing myself from this unreal world that has hijacked the destinies of many and hand over same to Yeshua for constant divine spirit-transformational experience. Jesus must be our daily influence. Greet with the Word of God daily before you meet your World. That’s how you keep in charge.

In all:

18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18 King James Version (KJV)

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.