Spacebook | A New Platform that Rivals Facebook | Get Social Outdoors

Relationships, Photos & Content

Never before in the history of humanity has there been such a book like Facebook. It enables nearly a billion people to pay constant attention to their relationships, see photos of friends and unbelievable scenery, and have a constant flow of interesting content. Has there every been a book that has rivaled Facebook’s influence?

Facebook

Who doesn’t like Facebook? It’s an amazing feat of humanity that enables us to stay in touch with friends, and express just about anything that’s on our minds to thousands of friends and acquaintances. It is truly a revolutionary social discovery.

Spacebook

But there is another book which has influenced the over 106 billion people who have ever lived on the earth, and will continue to influence each person who ever will live on this earth until Christ returns. It has better pictures, a better and more constant flow of original content, and it fosters better relationships through shared adventure and bonding experiences. The title of book I am referring to is: Creation. Or as I like to call it, Spacebook, because it’s wide open outdoor spaces point us to the vast riches of God’s character. Listen to these grace-filled words about spacious places from God’s Word, the Bible:

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. (Job 36:16)

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19)

You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. (Psalm 31:8)

Facebook’s Limitations and Spacebook’s Virtual Limitlessness

As much as I enjoy Facebook, its limitations are huge. I have to stare at a screen to enjoy it. And it will always be two-dimensional whereas God’s Creation is 3-D! I can see it, touch it, taste, feel, and hear it. It is a place of life, and as the Ancients remind us, it is a place to connect with God—And He is not on Facebook, although lots of people talk about Him on Facebook.

The Ancient “Fossil” Record

Listen to what some ancient, wise, Fossils have to say about Spacebook, i.e. the Book of Creation. They highlight its superiority to anything man could ever make. St. Irenaeus of Lyons (129-203) said,

For even creation reveals him who formed it, and the very work made suggests him Who made it, and the world manifests him Who ordered it.

St. Athanasius (297-203) stated,

About the ‘Book of Creation,’ the creatures are like letters proclaiming in loud voices to their Divine Master and Creator the harmony and order of things. For this reason, God gave creation such order as is found therein, so that while HE is by nature visible, men might yet be able to know him through his works.

St. Augustine (354-430) put it this way:

 Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead he set before your eyes the things that he had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?

Jesus Created this Spacebook

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (Colossians 1:15-16)

Jesus used Spacebook to instruct people in the secrets of the Kingdom of God. This is also true of the writers of the Psalms, and it can be true of us today if we will just go out and immerse ourselves in God’s Creation like we do with other social media. Probably the largest body of evangelistic sermons, poems, and songs related to the awe-inspiring setting of creation is found in the Psalms. David was profoundly shaped by his wilderness experiences. In Psalm 8, he writes,

 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, The moon and the stars, which you have ordained; What is man that you take thought of him, And the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4).

In the wilderness (through thoughtful observation of creation), we learn that neither man nor any other created being could have created what is visible. This points us to the existence of God:

 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, and night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard (Psalm 19:1-3).

Through times of solitude in the wilderness, David’s heart was transformed and strengthened by the presence of the Lord:

 Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me, And your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,’ Even the darkness is not dark to you, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to you. For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:7-14)

The prophet Amos wrote:

For behold, he who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are his thoughts, he who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, The Lord God of hosts is his name (Amos 4:13).

He points to the wonders of creation as he is attentive to the Lord’s sustaining hand: “He who made the Pleiades and Orion and changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, The Lord is his name” (Amos 5:8).

Isaiah marvels at the Lord’s greatness evidenced in his creation:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as his counselor has informed him? (Isaiah 40:12-13)

Sign Up and Get Your Spacebook Password

It’s one thing to go out and enjoy the beauty of Creation, but is an even greater thing to go out and enjoy the Creator of the vast Creation we see. To do that, we must humble ourselves before God and approach Him on His terms. The Ancients have taught us that we can know God more fully and intimately as we spend time out in His Creation as we quietly allow our senses and spirit to be attentive to his voice speaking directly to us. Yet, we first have to sign up and get a password to fully enjoy it the way it was designed to be enjoyed. The writer of Hebrews says that we need a special password to enjoy fully this kind of intimate communication with God. That “password” is repentance of our sin and rebellion against God and a decision of faith in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. The Bible doesn’t really give any other options.

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3).

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Action Steps

  • Share your comments below.
  • What is the main thing that is stopping you from developing a habit of spending time with God outdoors?
  • If you’d like more input and ideas for how to connect with God through wilderness experiences, then I invite you to sign up for my newsletter.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

36 thoughts on “Spacebook | A New Platform that Rivals Facebook | Get Social Outdoors

  1. Wonderful analogy and timely message for our day. I do enjoy facebook for finding gems like this. Wouldn’t be great if we spent as much time looking at God’s word and Him in creation as we use looking at our computer and device? Am challenged! Thanks!

  2. Spending time in the Creator’s creation has been something I have done less and less of, but I understand how vital it is for me to spend quality time with God out in His beautiful creation! Reading this blog reminded me of the time I went outside,(I love the outdoors) and decided to intentionally watch a bee gather pollen from a flower and take it back to a Hive. I felt the Lord speaking to me through this and this is what I got from it ” you know John, that bee is like a follower of me. the bee goes out and gathers pollen (quality time with God, more wisdom) and goes back to the hive (community) and shares the pollen in order to produce honey( a rich and deeper understanding of God, fruitfulness) It hit me so hard and helped me appreciate creation more. I love when God reveals truths through nature. Looking at creation through the lense of David and how he described his experiences with creation, has helped me understand the importance of consistently spending time outside for the purpose of growing more intimate with my Father. I know spending time with God is essential for an intimate relationship with Him. Just as we spend time with our best friend and know there ins and outs, likes and dislikes, we must spend even more intentional time with the Lord to know His voice and will for us! I believe this blog will help many others( just like myself) to appreciate God’s creation and not take it for granted. more spacebook and less facebook, although facebook pretty much happens everyday for me….I hope others will be inspired by your blog and touch on topics like silence,knowing His voice, and what solitude time looks like in the outdoors. this blog was very beneficial and reopened my eyes to the importance of quality time with God outside! putting down technology is huge, I am curious to know how many hours the average person spends on technology throughout a day.

  3. This blog was a great blog because some people do not fully
    appreciate God’s creation and fill their time inside glued to electronic
    devices and not enjoying “Spacebook.” This blog was an important way of showing to me that we should take advantage of the time we have and what we spend it on. I just think about all of the times that I spend on Facebook or on other electronic devices and not go outside and actually enjoy what God has created for us and not to focus on what man has made that distracts us from something as beautiful as the outdoors that God has created for His people. This post shows me and reminds me of God’s love because He has made such a beautiful creation that we get to live in and because of this beauty it shows His love for us that He would create such a masterpiece for us to live in. This blog I feel like will show people that it is important to actually go outdoors and experience what God has created for us so we can get to know God on a more personal level. I feel like it will push people to go outdoors for them to see what it is like being outdoors. It will allow people to do things in the outdoors and experience “Spacebook” in the way God intended us to. In this post I feel like there needs to be another post that shows how to take “Spacebook” to the fullest. I feel like it would be helpful for us viewers of this blog for suggestions to what we can do in the outdoors to see His creation to the fullest. Then with some of the suggestions, then give some advice to what we should do to in order to maximize our time in the outdoors. This was a great blog that shows the importance of God’s creation and as Christians we need to start spending more time in it. Thanks for such an essential insight about God’s creation!

  4. 208,300 photos are uploaded every minute to Facebook alone. That only makes up a small portion of the unbelievable scenery photos available at our fingertips at any time. While social media gives us this incredible opportunity to enjoy things in our lives that we would never otherwise experience, does this also come with ramifications?
    With our accessibility to so much, we tend to jump from thing to thing and spend little time truly enjoying it. I love outdoor pictures, but even some of the most beautiful images I look at just long enough to think “that’s cool”
    and move to the next one. Through the constant movement of technology, we experience a great deal more, but in social media we lose the depth of the experience.
    If we could discipline ourselves enough to put away the social media distractions and sit in the glory of God’s creation regularly, we
    could learn a great deal about our creator and His creation. God designed the outdoors to be an awe-inspiring declaration of His glory. The only problem is whether we take the time to see, listen and wonder at it. Social media is a wonderful tool, but nothing designed by man could ever compare to the splendor of something handcrafted by God.

  5. The way a person can get wrapped up in man made things and forget the simplicity of meeting God in what he has created is tragedy. I have been caught in this trap many times and have wondered why I have felt distant from God. This post was a good reminder that God can be easier to find when one surrounds themselves with his creative glory. A important idea that was brought to my mind when I was reading this is that God has given man so many opportunities to see his nature and true character but man is still able to overlook it. I believe that is possible because people don’t connect wilderness with God so thank you for leading people into one of the biggest examples that there is a God. I believe this post will take of the blinders that society and others have placed on their eyes and reveal that God is all around. He is found not just in the words of God but in creation that he spoke into existence. Something that stood out was the password for Spacebook. I loved the idea that to enjoy and to have intimate connection with creation one must know the creator. The analog of Facebook and Spacebook made a bridge that helped me and others to be able to understand that we, as Christians, have one of the best ways to present the gospel. This post was very insightful and innovative. Thank you for looking into this subject and not just accepting the lack of connection that people told you there was between God and the Wilderness.

  6. Reading this made me realize that social media represents
    our need for relationship, affirmation and acceptance. I find myself on
    Facebook everyday searching for these things, although I would never want to admit it. I know it’s a cheap way to find wholeness in my life, but I succumb to it nonetheless. I don’t think Facebook is terrible, rather it’s a valid form of connection and communication, and I have experienced the benefits of being able to effortlessly communicate with friends all over the world that I otherwise wouldn’t keep up with. I think our apparent need for (maybe addiction to) social media is simply proof of our need for perfect relationship, affirmation and acceptance that is only truly satisfied in the Trinity. The fact that Facebook doesn’t provide this shows the foolishness of our human attempts to create life for ourselves, instead of looking to God for life. It really shows how infinitely much better our Creator knows how to fulfill our needs than we do. While Facebook seems limitless, it can’t escape the confines of a computer screen. God’s creation, on the other hand, can’t be contained by any such limits. I would be interested in seeing how the amount of time spent on social media affects how people view God and other people in their lives. Why do we take a fabricated version when an infinite supply of God’s glory has always been available? I love the outdoors for the unavoidable depth of beauty that God offers through them, and I am so thankful that God declares
    that His creation is a representation of His character.

  7. What a cool comparison! I have never been a huge fan of the
    implications behind social networking websites, though I constantly find myself in situations where it is a necessary piece of a practical life. It has evolved into such a powerful mode of communication in these past few decades. Although, I think it is crucial for us to see it as no comparison to the authority of God’s creation and his word. I find it awesome that your post is able to hold this reality into a biblical context with an excellent choice of scripture. The first thought that came to mind while reading this post is the utter insignificance that social networking has in comparison to the word of God. Facebook tends to connect you with the faces of childhood friends that regularly post things related to their shiny car or adorable cats. On the other hand, the Bible has been connecting the hearts of man for thousands of years. Authenticity is the subject at hand. I am a lover
    of the outdoors and to read this with a light on the creator was quite
    profound. From my experience of the outdoors, I often find myself losing track
    of God’s involvement in his creation. Which sounds ridiculous, but it gets to be a two-subject situation. Creation and me. But in reality, it is in the creation (Spacebook) where God is most evident. People need to hear the truths that are described in this blog. Too many people are stuck in a pattern of the city life and walk right by God’s masterpiece. This post has presented the need to encourage those around me to step out of the comfortable life behind a screen and step into God’s space for a time of spiritual transformation.

  8. As a student of Christ-centered Outdoor Leadership, this post reminded me of the dangers of social media and how much it can suck us in. While this can be used for good of course, the danger is in the fact that this sucking us in causes us to be sucked out of the reality of Jesus’ creation around us. Truly, our God is a God of creativity. The Earth He made may be fallen now, but there is still so much common grace to be seen. This post could help people because it really just brings us back to the fundamental truth that all beauty in the world can be attributed to the Lord. Truly, there will never be too much exploration and study of God’s creation and how we are to steward it. I would love to share this with Jim Doenges, although I’m sure he has already read it :).

  9. It was interesting to read about the connection between social media and the outdoors. One is usually described as detrimental to the other. But in this post, the connection was effectively used to point me to valuing creation.

    As stated, Facebook can be used to speak of God; however, it can never attain the same level of spiritual experience that the wilderness can give us. I could not agree more with this conclusion. I have been studying a lot this year on Sabbath and what it means to truly rest. I once thought it was doing mindless things in the comfort of my home such as scrolling through Facebook. As I began to explore different methods of rest, I found being with God in the wilderness created more peace in me than Facebook ever could. This post reiterated what I had learned through citing several scriptures that describe God’s attempts to desperately meet us in His creation.

    I very much appreciated the last section that talked about how we must humble ourselves and allow our senses and spirit to be sensitive to His voice. While time in the wilderness can be rest, it also requires effort and focus on our part. I have found it becomes easier over time, and we begin to tune into Him automatically.

    The post was a great reminder of the value found in seeking God outdoors. It was also extremely beneficial to read through scripture that backed up the significance of the outdoors.

  10. While reading this article, I just couldn’t help but think of
    how many hours a day I am on phone looking at Facebook, or Twitter, or any other form social media. I waist time on these sites while I could be doing things to further the kingdom or even just personally reach out to someone instead of trying to like a picture or leave a comment on a status. I guess today’s world is just impersonal that way. But something I love about being at summer camp, Christian or non-Christian, is that we have to leave our electronics at home and we forced into community. This gives us, those who are at Christian camp, a chance to see God in places we normally don’t. We have the opportunity to feel what David felt while he was writing the Psalms. Seeing the creation God has made shows me the love He has for us. I hope that people can have the chance to experience not only what the biblical writers probably saw on a weekly basis, but also what we today see when we travel out of populated areas. If people were to use the advice of getting out into the outdoors to experience God, I think that they will either find a new love for God that was not in their current relationship with Him or it would spark new life in them because of what God revealed about Himself to them. I wish we could see how experiences like this affected people’s relationship with God. That would be something I would like to see!!

  11. While reading this article, I just couldn’t help but think of
    how many hours a day I am on phone looking at Facebook, or Twitter, or any
    other form social media. I waist time on these sites while I could be doing
    things to further the kingdom or even just personally reach out to someone
    instead of trying to like a picture or leave a comment on a status. I guess
    today’s world is just impersonal that way. But something I love about being at summer
    camp, Christian or non-Christian, is that we have to leave our electronics at
    home and we forced into community. This gives us, those who are at Christian
    camp, a chance to see God in places we normally don’t. We have the opportunity
    to feel what David felt while he was writing the Psalms. Seeing the creation
    God has made shows me the love He has for us. I hope that people can have the
    chance to experience not only what the biblical writers probably saw on a
    weekly basis, but also what we today see when we travel out of populated areas.
    If people were to use the advice of getting out into the outdoors to experience
    God, I think that they will either find a new love for God that was not in their
    current relationship with Him or it would spark new life in them because of
    what God revealed about Himself to them. I wish we could see how experiences
    like this affected people’s relationship with God. That would be something I
    would like to see!

  12. While reading this article, I just couldn’t help but think
    of how many hours a day I am on phone looking at Facebook, or Twitter, or any other form social media. I waist time on these sites while I could be doing things to further the kingdom or even just personally reach out to someone instead of trying to like a picture or leave a comment on a status. Something I love about being summer camp, Christian or non-Christian, is that we have to, normally, leave our electronics at home. This gives us, those who are at Christian camp, a chance to see God in places we normally don’t. We have the opportunity to feel what David felt while he was writing the Psalms. Seeing the creation God has made shows me the love He has for us.I hope that people can have the chance to experience not only what the biblical writers probably saw on a weekly basis, but also what we today see when we travel out of populated areas. If people were to use the advice of getting out into the outdoors to experience God, I think that they will either find a new love for God that was not in their current relationship with Him or it would spark new life in them because of God revealed Himself to them. I wish we could see how experiences like this effected people’s relationship with God. That would
    be something I would like to see!

  13. All of this was definitely a huge reminder of the value of God’s creation. While I have friends around the world and Facebook provides a great way to keep in contact with them and maintain relationships, it will never replace face-to-face interactions! And on top of that, the outdoors provides a unique type of bonding that other activities cannot. You are forced rely on each other and live out the true meaning of team. The fact that creation has no limit and is literally God’s canvas will always enthrall me. We are literally looking at the art of our one Creator! Furthermore, it is important that we, as believers, practice the act of silence and solitude in God’s creation just as Jesus did. He did nothing that was not an example for us and our walk with Christ, and I have found that I can connect to God much more through his creation; it speaks wonders!
    On the other hand, it would be interesting to see a non-believers view of creation. Yes, through faith we are able to see it in a different light, but I also believe that creation will always exemplify God’s creativity and power. “if they keep quiet; the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40)

  14. Indeed, creation screams of a creator. I am thankful for how this blog so eloquently displays this fact and for how it testifies, through scripture, experience, and thoughtful reason, to God the creator. Something that I was reminded of while reading this post was of how God created us with five different senses to experience Him and His creation through. It is crazy that God not only created the world, but that He also wants us to experience Him through it. The senses that He has given us lead us in discovering him ore completely. This reminder challenges me to continually be more aware of the creator God that dwells within and around me. I am confident that living out this challenge will help me grow closer to Jesus. Not only will this challenge aid me in deepening my walk with the Lord, but I am confident that it will also assist others. Through this blog, I think that people will be reminded of God’s glory displayed in creation and that His glory is not only able to be experienced in Heaven but that it can also be experienced on earth. For future blog posts, I think that it would potentially be beneficial for others to specifically focus in on the different senses that God has created humans with, and then focus on how these senses specifically testify to relating to God in creation. Thank you so much for your thoughts and for pointing to how God’s created image bearers can enjoy Him in His nature.

  15. Thank you for writing this!
    It was a good reminder of how much social media has changed and
    cheapened my own relationships. I have been reminded recently how much getting outdoors with a friend deepens the connection, and how shallow sites like Facebook really are. Also, when reading the verses you posted from Psalm 119 I thought about how God can supply our every need and give us the love and comfort that we desire when we post vague statuses about unfortunate life happenings in hope of a sympathetic scroller-by asking what is wrong. Subsequently, I can encourage struggling friends by reminding them of the gentleness and love of God, and encourage them to get into a personal relationship with Him if they have not already. Actually, I think that could be another topic that you could blog on: how God is our comforter and protector, and how he clothes the lilies of the field, knows the actions of the sparrows, and subsequently takes care of His children.

  16. Coming from a 19-year-old’s perspective, I truly appreciate this blog. I am fully engulfed in the world of Facebook, and I hate it. The pictures that people post are fake or pointless, the statuses they post are simply for attention, the mindless hours of entertainment that come from such a site are not even entertaining. And yet, everyday, I return. I have never thought about creation, in modern terms, as God’s personal social media site. He share pictures of his accomplishments, stories of his children, and he always has the best insight. The difference is that when a teenage girl posts a bathroom selfie with a #Bible, and God posts a mountain range, one of these makes my heart spin, the other, my stomach.
    I would like more people my age to read this post so that they can look at creation in their own worldview – even if that means looking at it as if it is God’s own social media page. I can name several close friends who spend much of their days posting pointless and unflattering selfies, in stead of enjoying the true beauty that is simply taking your eyes off of the window – the one in your pocket or on your desk- and walking out the door – an actual door.

  17. I can resonate with the fact that social media can be a great way to stay “connected” with people I hardly ever see and I understand why so many people use it to portray the “real” them. What I have noticed is the number of people who seem to be hurting underneath their posts about what they are up to and want someone to notice that they are alive. Social media can and does save lives, especially now with such an emphasis on bullying and suicide but it cannot take the place of interpersonal interaction. I feel as though a generation of people are growing up without the interpersonal skills to interact with the actual world and people around them. It makes me fear for the divorce rate in the next twenty years or so. I also fear that the instant gratification that social media gives us is negatively affecting our ability to wait on the Lord.

    I have always found Spacebook to be a far better option for bringing people close together than social media could ever do. I agree with Alan that community building can be accomplished in places that are not based on being outside, but I have firsthand experience with the degree of community building that happens on an outdoor adventure versus being indoors. I also agree with our calling to live side by side one another in life and not just one week out of the year. Being in Denver and so close to the mountains is a great way connect with people, even if it is just for the day. I find that I can connect to the high school students at my church far easier and talk about things that would otherwise be like pulling teeth when I am out fishing with them. With that being said, social media has afforded me more insight to who my students are outside of Sundays but it leaves me confused as to what they are about when they come and worship God at group only to post some questionable pictures or comments online.

    My own personal journey has driven me to a love of the outdoors and a distaste for what social media seems to have become. I cannot stand the ads that are pumped directly to my computer screen or keep up with the new lingo before its old hat. My soul is refreshed by being outside and breathing the fresh air and it aches when I am inside all day by myself looking at the computer. I believe that Spacebook has been vastly overlooked by the church but we seem to be at a crossroads in regards to how we view and treat creation within the church. We have a great opportunity to point others to the redemptive qualities of the outdoors and the transformational character that it has. We need to be able to bring that to the people and not try to lure them to it. Jesus told us to “go and make disciples of all nations” not to have them come to us.

    • Hey Ben, I really appreciate your comment: “My soul is refreshed by being outside and breathing the fresh air and it
      aches when I am inside all day by myself looking at the computer.” If you were to be talking with a thoughtful skeptic and they asked you this question, how would you answer? “I think I’ve felt what you are talking about, but I can’t explain it… how is that spending time out in a pristine, beautiful outdoor space refreshes my soul more than sitting in front of a computer screen? Can you explain this to me biblically?” How would you respond?

  18. While social media can be a useful tool to help disseminate shareable personal information, its ability to form “community” amongst its users is lacking. From a Trinitarian perspective, humanity, made in the image of a triune God, was made to live in community. This desire for community requires full interaction with one another, which is more than just words and pictures on a computer screen.

    While I don’t believe shared experiences in the outdoors are a requirement for true community building, it certainly isn’t a bad place for such community building to occur. Knowing about someone, as provided by social media, can never match actually knowing someone. To know them, means to have spent time living alongside them in some particular setting. Enduring together the blisters, bug bites, and aching muscles resulting from a hike through the woods builds a common bond. Being able to provide mutual assistance to those in need around you, allowing the group to survive the shared wilderness experience, builds more community that could ever be created through viewing information on a computer.

    This isn’t to say that we should shun social media, because it can still have its valid uses. Nor should we be looking to escape to the woods to permanently live off the land in a commune. But we need to be careful that we do not succumb to the myth that social media can fulfill the God-given need to live in community with others, and must strive to find ways to physically interact with others so that community can occur.

    • Hey Alan, I love your comment, “But we need to be careful that we do not succumb to the myth that social media can fulfill the God-given need to live in community with others, and must strive to find ways to physically interact with others so that community can occur.” How would you respond to a person that might struggle with your comment and ask, “I feel the limitations of social media to meet the needs of my soul, but I don’t know what to do about it? Have you ever experienced a sense of ‘community’ with a group of people out on a wilderness trip? What are some of the specific characteristics of your experience that you would say are components of biblical community?”

  19. Social media provides an outlet that people crave. It gives you friends, followers, and fans. It allows you to project what you want, when you want. You can be sitting alone and pick up your phone and seconds later be transported to a place where life is shared with hundreds or even thousands of other people. Or at least it seems like that. I’ll be honest, I make use of social media on daily basis and have no shame in that, but it is never what I am looking for. It can be a tool that brings ease to staying in touch, but with that ease there are consequences. We sacrifice depth. We settle for something far less valuable and fulfilling than what we are seeking. We don’t dare to commit.

    Seeing a photo or reading a tweet can help me feel like I am invested momentarily, but with no commitment. If I’m not interested I move
    on. We live in a culture of entertainment and that extends into our relationships through social media. I don’t have to give my attention to anything that does not stimulate my senses. With merely the scroll of the mouse I can move on until something else catches my eye. It is so easy to feel as if relationships are there solely for our own sake or entertainment and we forget completely about what it means to do life together.

    At my undergrad they adopted a slogan that we often poked fun at that claimed it was “your adventurous life.” Residing in a fairly affluent, extremely safe, and overall not-very-exciting community caused a bit of a chuckle every time we saw it plastered around campus, but there was so much truth in that. Life is ours to take hold. We can spend our time ‘connecting’ on Facebook or we can find our adventure. What we do with our lives is up to us and when we chase our adventure it awakens our spirits. It is “in Him we live and move and have our being.” So if our being resides in Christ, then what a disservice it is to do anything less than live abundantly. God gave us the greatest playground we could ever imagine and set us free to run and play. When we go outside, we become alive. We not only see God’s splendor but we experience it. There is no greater way to connect with others than through the majestic wonder of our great God.

    • Thanks Liz for your response. I really enjoyed tapping into your social media perspective… and pretty funny were your comments on “your adventurous life…” I totally see that.

    • Hey Lis, I love your comment, “When we go outside , we become alive.” Let’s imagine that someone were to question you on that and ask you, “How do you explain the reason why when I go outside it feels like it awakens something in my soul?” How would you respond to that person biblically?

      • The Bible is just rife with talk about creation using words live splendor, majesty, beauty, and wonder. The Psalms and the prophets are filled with songs, poems, and stories as they stand in amazement at God’s handiwork. When we are outside we see and experience God — Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Nature is a declaration of the Lord. Psalm 50:2 states, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.” God shining forth as the perfection of beauty; if that doesn’t change us I don’t know what will. And when David, in Psalm 23, writes “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” he illustrates how God uses nature experiences to restore us. There are many more examples that could be used but this is just a little snippet of how that question could be answered.

  20. Social media provides a seemingly “safe” place to relate with one another because it requires less and less actual engagement.On social media sites you can portray whatever image you want while hiding what you do not want others to see. Social media allows you to feel like you are actually engaged without actually having to do anything. In contrast, shared experiences require actual engagement, vulnerability, confrontation, honesty, trust, etc. Those things are hard work, and unfortunately we would just rather not actually do it out of fear and insecurity. Even though shared experiences are what we ultimately long for, we settle for the cheap fake version simply because it is easier and requires less of us. While that is sad, I think it is the true reality. You can look around and see it everywhere – people longing for connection but settling for staring at their phones because engaging the person next to them feels too risky.

    One simple reason for this contrast is due to convenience. In our society we are already overstretched. Our schedules are too full; and if I’m not busy then the person I want to hang out with probably is. To actually share an experience requires planning and desire and connection, and frankly we are just too lazy to do the work. We are even running out of places to simply show up and meet people—coffee shops are computer labs; public social gatherings are non-existent; and parks are full of people exercising with iPods. Social media is readily available at our fingertips 24/7. You can be on social media while you wait in line; while you wait for your kids to get out of practice; while you are bored; during your lunch break; etc. It’s quick, easy, and painless.

    Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like may be entertaining and help us keep up with others – but ultimately these quick fixes leave us empty. They do not satisfy our longings for community; only real people and interactions do that. Somehow, we have to convince people that putting down our smart phones and going out to share life with people is worth it. Somehow we have to get creative about inviting people out of their comfort zones to actually share a bit of life together. Somehow we have to create spaces where people feel welcome and excited to come to engage others. Somehow we have to show people that even if it’s messy, engaging people is worth it. Somehow we have to convince people that what they long for, a piece of plastic and a glowing screen is never going to satisfy. I believe this is where the Church can use the arts, the outdoors, and simply people – to show the world what is worth engaging: each other.

    • Hey Melissa, I love your comment, ” Somehow, we have to convince people that putting down our smart phones and going out to share life with people is worth it.” Can you think of any compelling ways that you could accomplish that with, for example, a busy college student? How would you convince him/her?

      • Thanks! Good question…

        The good thing about college students is that they are really open to conversation. I think a good beginning point would be just to converse about some of the downfalls of our overly connected society and some ways they can go against the grain. In many ways it is far more powerful to get them to name their own connectedness than for me to just tell them the reality. That promotes way more change within themselves than someone just telling them what to or not to do.

        Another idea is just simply proposing a challenge to them. So asking the question “So what if you were to put down your smart phone for a few hours? A day? A few days? And see what happens…” and offering to do this WITH them, could be a good step.

        Then just providing the opportunity for something else. So offering a weekend camping trip or a hike or a kayaking adventure to a few students… and encouraging them to join in in order to see the difference in actually experiencing life alongside others rather than through a screen. Continually providing this also continues to reinforce the truth we’re trying to provide. I think if you continue to offer it, they’ll eventually show up.

        I think this could be a good thing to try to implement within a small group or college ministry type setting, or even on a larger scale encouraging an entire church join in by teaching on it, talking about it with individuals, and providing church wide opportunities.

  21. How would you describe the tension between our cultural trend toward relating with one another through social media, versus relating with one another through shared experiences? What is your opinion?

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