All the lonely people…where do they all come from?
All the lonely people…where do they all belong?
—From Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles
These words penned by The Beatles over 45 years ago still ring just as true today, as they will 45 years from now, as well.
And yet they shouldn’t – right?
After all, back then there were no cell phones, no texting and no emailing.
And for sure there were technological and social juggernauts like Facebook and Instagram, so people didn’t have hundreds of (ahem) “friends,” and worst of all, instead of obsessing over other peoples status updates and pics, they had to do ghastly things like personally visit friends and make, you know, like eye contact for extended periods of time!
This may sound a little crazy, but I would argue that those who lived in the days of The Fab Four were on many levels less lonely than today. Friendships couldn’t be made by a request and a click of a button, and the snapshots you got of people’s lives were the messy ones that you saw from spending time with them.
A bit ironic – don’t you think?
And yet, perhaps not. We’ve been duped into thinking that the status updates and uploaded photos of people’s (ahem…again) “lives” actually represent the truth. But the reality of Facebook and Instagram is that they create an opportunity for us to craft carefully cropped images and wisely worded statuses that make everyone else sometimes wish that they could trade in their lives for ours.
Much like drinking seawater to satiate our thirst, we crave a simple (yet deadly) solution to our soul’s deepest need: community.
Think about it, when you are deeply engaged in an authentic and meaningful conversation with people, are you checking your Facebook?
When you are experiencing a breathtaking sunset with your best friend by your side or sitting around a campfire with your family making smores and laughing so hard that the hot chocolate is threatening to exit through your nose, are you concerned about Instagram?
If you are, then it may be time to seek professional help, because these are the moments that provide the true solution to loneliness and isolation: community.
Since we have been created in God’s image, we carry a constant and abiding desire to connect with others and share in the journey of life. Looking to Facebook and Instagram to satisfy that desire is much like trying to consume a digitally projected image of a juicy steak to fill an empty stomach.
So should we swear off Facebook and Instagram and live like we jumped through a time warp back to the 1960’s?
Well, that might be fun, but probably not practical. Those sites create many wonderful opportunities to communicate and share our lives on a cyberspace level, but don’t forget that what you really need is the original “facetime”:
They spent their time learning from the apostles, and they were like family to each other. They also broke bread and prayed together. Everyone was amazed by the many miracles and wonders that the apostles worked. All the Lord’s followers often met together, and they shared everything they had. They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it.
Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47, CEV).
This is a “snapshot” of the first Christians from 2000 years ago. They aren’t lonely people, and they know where they belong. Their individual lives were saturated with strife, dysfunctions and tribulations, but when they came together in a community and took their focus off themselves, the joy of the Lord dominated their experience.
Let me ask you a question: when was the last time you experienced community like that? Can you recall a time when you would have sold your possessions just to buy more time with people you had grown to love? And if the early Christians needed that “facetime,” why shouldn’t we?
Most importantly, did you catch that last part? “Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.”
The truth is, when Christians come together in authentic community and show the world that skin color, economic status, peer group labels, and even personal reputations melt away in the warm light of the gospel, people are drawn in like a moth to a flame.
So the next time you feel lonely or isolated, instead of seeking a short term solution on Facebook, go invest in some facetime! You may find that it not only satisfies your soul, it very well could save your friends!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Think about how much time you spend each week on Facebook and Instagram. What if you reinvested even half of that time in developing deeper and more meaningful relationships with people face-to-face? THE Cause is not going to be fulfilled through pithy status updates and crafted photos!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, help us use our time wisely and invest in people the way Jesus did. Give us a sense of community with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and please add to our numbers daily.
Read: John 13:35. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Get: Check out some of the great resources available at Every Student, Every School. They can help you reach your school for Christ!
Youth Leader’s Discussion Questions:
Facebook and Instagram serve a limited purpose, but what we truly need is facetime with people, both for our own needs and for THE Cause.
- How much time do you spend on Facebook and Instagram each week?
- Have you experienced community the way the early Christians did? Why or why not?
- How can you reinvest some of that time to develop authentic community?
- How can you use this Soul Fuel to further THE Cause of Christ and spread His message?