Why Lent? Why Social Media?
Lent is a time for Christians to fast and repent, strengthening their relationship with God and strengthening their Christian walk. In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke it is written that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, led there by the Spirit, and fasted before being tempted by the devil before the start of his public ministry (see Matthew 4, for example). For Christians, this observational period culminates in Easter, the highest and holiest Christian holiday, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ, conquering death, and fulfilling God’s promise of the reconciliation of his people back to himself.
Fasting is practiced in dozens, if not hundreds, of world religions. In Christianity, though I can’t speak for other religions, fasting is not for appearances. Fasting for the purpose of being seen and being lauded as “religious” is the wrong heart stance. Matthew 6: 16-18 instructs, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (17) But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, (18) so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” We are not to be downtrodden and “woe is me” whilst fasting. It isn’t about others—it’s about us and our relationship with God. Fasting provides an opportunity for a clear head and heart to hear God better, and to clear our lives of the things that are getting in the way of us living fully in God’s will and for his purposes.
The heaviest thing I’m unburdening myself from via fasting this Lenten season is social media. How does this relate to God and my development as a disciple? For starters, I’m distancing myself from the intoxication that culture-living can sometimes provide. I literally feel steadier. I don’t know who or what is “cancelled” this week, who’s being gossiped about, or seeing laundry lists of complaints. I’ve been able to slow down in my daily life, not mimicking the “scroll” and fast reactions a life on social media requires.
This fast helps distance me from gossiping, which Christians are instructed to avoid. Ephesians 5:4 reads, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” The “out of place,” written about here is given no qualifiers. It does not mean these things were out of place for that time, or in certain company, or in certain circumstances—they’re wholesale out of place. Now, typically I don’t tend to engage in gossip at the grassroots level of the people I know in daily life, though I’m not immune to it, but political and celebrity gossip can overtake me sometimes, and aside from the colossal waste of time it is, when I engage in it I am dishonoring people made in the image of God. Real humans. I must repent of this behavior and pray for myself and for those about which I might speak negatively. If they’ve done wrong, they need my prayer, not my judgment.
I’ll share more about what I’m fasting from, or things I might add over the next forty days, in other posts, but I wanted to hop on here quick to give some background for the social media fast. Yes, I’ll share the link to this post on Facebook, but I’m not wallowing in the sludge that Facebook sometimes becomes for me. This past week has felt a lot like coming out of a fog, and it’s already giving me a lot to consider and reconsider about the kind of life I want to live and the kind of relationship I want to have with social media going forward.
Blessings to all of you who are also observing Lent, may it be a fruitful experience that draws you ever nearer to God.